Wednesday, January 24, 2007

What's in a name?

All the way to school this morning, Bud sat in the back seat of the car and read the book Arthur's Birthday. To be honest, he may not actually have been reading it, since he memorized the book a long time ago and would not even need to look at the pages to be able to recite it verbatim. Either way, he was engrossed in the book for the whole ride.

When we got to school, he left the book in the car but continued to script passages of it as we walked together toward the school building. As I often do, I tried to engage with his script to pull him out of his echolalic track and into more spontaneous speech as he made the transition to his school day.

"Three dollar bills fell out!" he said.

"That's right," I said. "Arthur got three dollars from his Uncle Bud."

A little lightbulb clicked on in my head, and I said, "Hey, I just thought of something. What name do I call you sometimes?"

"What?" he said.

"What name do I call you sometimes?"

"Mom." (Darn those pesky pronouns.)

"You call me 'Mom'. Do you remember the name I call you when I write about you on the computer?"

Bud knows about my blog, though he doesn't really understand what it is. He enjoys looking at it to see pictures of his toys, his writing, and his drawings, and likes scanning the text for his favorite words: "Teletubbies," "Curious George," "Jack Johnson," etc. Recently he saw one of those words on the screen and asked me what I was writing, so I read the sentence to him and explained that when I write about him on the computer I always call him "Bud" (a name which, frankly, I call him more often than not in real life as well).

"What?" he asked again.

"I call you 'Bud'! Just like Arthur's Uncle Bud!"

"Yeah," he said, as we continued to walk through the school. Then he added, "That's a great name."

"It is a great name," I said. "Because you are a great kid."

He didn't look at me. He just smiled a shy, private smile, then reached over and slipped his mittened hand into mine as we walked down the hallway to his classroom.

Great name. Great kid. Great moment.


Mom without a manual said...

You really do have a sweet boy!

I was wondering what you do or have done about the scripting. My son does a lot of it when he gets bored or even anxious. Like you I try to draw him out of it but our problem is at school especially at large group time. In this case the scripting has to get shushed.

It had gotten better but ever since Christmas time (when he got new books/games etc) he has been scripting the new materials almost nonstop. It is as though this new material is just consuming his thoughts!

I just read Send in the Idiots by Kamran Nazeer. I have been fascinated by his talk about Local Coherence and actually just found a posting by AutismOx about it as well.

I just can't decide how to work it for my 5 year old. I know there are "figet" toys but I want to find a way to not be so obvious about it. I don't want him to be 30 and still have to squeeze a rubber penguin (our current squeeze toy).

Is this a problem for Bud? How are you overcoming it? Is it just a maturity thing and he will learn better as he gets older that he can't talk during these times?

I would appreciate any suggestions!

MOM-NOS said...

Mom without a manual, yes, Bud is really similar. He scripts a lot when he's playing (because he likes to turn his favorite shows and books into pretend play, which is great), and he also scripts a lot when he's anxious or bored. Or even just disinterested, in a "I'd rather be playing now..." sort of way.

In school they need to remind him to have a "Quiet Mouth". I think they have some visual cues for that, so when he forgets they can point to the visual instead of haranguing him about it. And with some of the structured activities, like the special ed group session he attends, they encourage him to "do his job at word study," which includes having a quiet mouth, and they give him a lot of praise when he is able to do it.

But, really, he has a running commentary of scripts going a lot of the time. When I know he's going into a situation where it will be less appropriate, I try to build in "free scripting" time before and after. So, when we're driving to school I let him script away. Then as we pull in to the school I usually give him a reminder - "Remember, at school you need to talk like Bud, not like Curious George, okay?" or whatever. But then after trying his best through the school day, he tends to need some "leave me alone and let me script" time after school as well.

Bud uses fidget toys, and I'm pretty comfortable with them. You know, I work with college students and last fall we were running an extensive training session that involved them sitting and listening to people talk for extended periods of time. We decided to try something new this year to accommodate learning styles that are less comfortable with the sit-and-listen format, and we bought a bunch of fidget toys - silly putty, twisty things, squishy balls, etc. We put them in a basket by the door, inviting the students to grab one before each lecture if they thought it would help them focus. About half of them did, and they said that it helped them tremendously. We'll be building it into our training sessions in the future for sure!

Maddy said...

It's great to have those tiny moments to tuck away.

GClef1970 said...

I love this story! (and I laughed out loud over the pronoun thing... have you been eavsdropping in on our conversations?)

Conor does a bunch of scripting too, but I absolutely don't try to stop him; I only try to encourage him to keep talking and forming independent sentences beyond it. From everything I have read, scripting and echolalia is their way to communicate to us. They don't know how to initiate conversation, but they can recite a line from a book or a movie and get us to respond that way. I usually do exactly what you did and make it about him. :-)

I meant to ask you about the squish ball that you mentioned (on Gretchen's blog) that is on backorder from your local toy store. Do you happen to have a name for that one or a picture of it somewhere? (Toys R Us maybe?) Sounds like a great one.

Anonymous said...

My little friend Dolly was very fond of both my kids and my husband. The kids often came in the class to visit on school holidays..whenm I didn't have one and Quark came in to the school a lot to do computer support as a favour. She would call everyone in relation to Daughter...who apparently had the sun shining upon her. So, Quark became Daughter's Daddy, and Daughter's Boy was my son but we could never get her to realize that I was Daughter's mommy..I was just good old Mrs. 4 it's worth.
Pronouns are a tough concept.

kristina said...

Sweet, sweet!

The first time Charlie said my name, I knew he was really listening.

mysamiam said...

Very, very sweet. I love Bud. Made me feel a little better about Sam's scripting lately. It has been out of control. He just paces back and forth retelling the latest show but putting it into story mode. It is fascinating to me be can be exhausting. And then to hear sweet Bud. I love our kiddos!!!!!!

MOM-NOS said...

Melissa, I can't remember the name of the squishy ball because I didn't save the packaging, so I haven't been able to find it online. Once it comes in at the store, I'll send you the name of it.

Sam I Am, when Sam puts his scripts into "story mode", does he ever swap out the names of the characters to become the names of other characters or people? Bud's "mitigated" echolalia has gotten so sophisticated that he will, for example, use a Maisy script to play with his Mickey Mouse characters, but he'll not only swap out the names, he'll also swap out identifying details - so if the characters are going to Charlie's fort in the script, they'll go to Mickey Mouse's clubhouse in his mitigated version.

He does the same thing using actual people - take the script and substitute our names, or the names of people at school, and use real events and locations in our life in place of the ones in the script. It's fascinating.

He's so good at it that he can pull out a script and modify it to be able to communicate in real-life situations. I know he's using a script, because I recognize the "frame" or "skeleton" of it, but other people just think it's spontaneous speech.

Mom without a manual said...

During a Dr. Seuss phase this last November, JP took to lecturing/yelling at his little brother through what we call his "Seussisms".

The rhyming made his demands down right cute but his tone was not so nice. (Think of the fish in The Cat in the Hat Comes Back. He makes his little brother out to be the Cat and he is the fish demanding that he go away!)

We are still trying to reshape his tone of voice when "asking" T to stop taking / breaking / stealing his toys. Unfortunately we are practicing a lot these days!

Gotta love little brothers!!!!