Thursday, October 27, 2005

You've got to be joking

I seem to spend a lot of time thinking about Bud's "theory of mind" and looking for examples of his ability to use it. If Bud is going to learn to communicate - I mean real interpersonal communication, not just human interaction - then he needs to learn not only how to comprehend the words that are being spoken, but also how to interpret the intentions and motivations behind them. I try to provide a lot of opportunities for him to hone his skills.

The other day, Bud was playing with a basketball and he held it up to me. "Mama, what's this?" (Readers familiar with this blog will know that giving this kind of "pop quiz" is one of Bud's favorite pasttimes.)

I considered the basketball. "That's a monkey," I said.

"No, it's not a monkey," said Bud.

"Oh, right. It's not a monkey. It's an elephant."

"No, it's not a ..." Bud stopped himself in midsentence. Then he looked at me suspiciously, and said, "You're joking me."

He's on to me!


Alexander's Daddy said...
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Astryngia said...

Hi MOM-NOS! I found you via Kristina. :-) Did you know...that the Theory of Mind is (Great News!) being put back on the shelf?

I've written a little bit about it on my blog. ('Latest research', 'Mirror Neurons' and Interaction Theory')

It bothers me that researchers try to say that our sons have no empathy when they indeedy do!! Ultimately it then becomes a convenient way of 'blaming' them for any hurt which might be experienced by others as a result of their sheer logicality.

This kind of unremitting logicality is celebrated in Mr Spock, let's celebrate it in our sons. I think you'd agree. :-)

Thanks for your interesting posts.

Susan Senator said...

I agree with Astryngia (whose blog I will check out next!). It is sometimes difficult for us NTs but it is definitely possible to connect emotionally with our autistic kids, and I have come to realize that Nat (who is almost 16) is as tuned in to my emotions, if not more, than I am! And joking is one of the biggest breakthroughs he ever had -- similar to Bud's -- and it all started as correcting things that were incorrect, and smiling about it! He would look at my husband and say, "It's Max [his brother], yes!" Grinning. And I was supposed to say, "Hi Max!" Which would make him laugh. Then we would correct it, smiling. I so love those jokes!

gwuinifer said...
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gwuinifer said...

Empathy is astoundingly difficult to express without linguistic complexity. The words "I'm sorry" can mean at least a dozen things differentiated solely by tone of voice and/or facial expression... For little guys who are having a helluva time with words for their own sake, learning and applying their nuances accurately is a challenge, doubled by the factor common to every human- when one is emotionally charged (negatively or positively), words are notoriously difficult to pin down!
Ethan had his first real tangible case of empathy last week. We were perusing Getty Images for stock art, and stumbled upon a B&W image of a man staring straight into the camera, his expression empty and listless and subtly aching, with obvious wetness under his eye (only half his face was in the picture) and a single tear running down his cheek. The background was a grey blur (so no foreground/background confusion). Ethan reacted visibly to it. He leaned close to the screen (he was on my lap) for a moment, then turned to me, his face deeply concerned.

"Ohh," he said softly. "Don't cry. It's okay."

Now, I know this is a repeat word-for-word of the routine he uses to express that he's injured. But he hasn't applied it outside that context before.

Yesterday he did the same thing with his sister when she started crying after being sternly corrected by Dad. He hugged her for a long time.

mommyguilt said...

Oh he is most definitely on to you. Bud's cruising by leaps and bounds just since I started reading a couple of months ago. I'm so proud (and I don't even know you or Bud)!

I think these ways are the best ways to actually find out if our kids are "getting it"...but getting "it" more than anything. We can check and see if they're able to fully comprehend what they and we are talking about.

Bud knew that it wasn't an elephant and he was ready to call you on it. That's awesome. SmallBoy and I are doing something similar with finding and identifying his feelings. We'll stop mid-meltdown or mid-excitement or mid-anxiety to have him "name that feeling!"

kyra said...

tee hee! hooray for Bud! he is MOST assuredly on to you! and enjoying it, it seems!