Thursday, September 07, 2006

Fascinating quote

The following comes from the latest Timberdoodle newsletter:

"Because Krissy's autism had resulted in severe language delays, she did not naturally ask questions. Even when she became able to make her needs known with one or two word demands ("Milk, please") she was unable to ask, "Can I have milk please?" During the training phase we would constantly prompt her by saying, "Ask."

One day, out of the blue, she asked/demanded "Disneyland." "Ask!," we responded. Then began a very laborious process as she worked at remembering and saying the right words, in the right order. Finally she stammered out, "Can I go to Disneyland please?"

Why did we make her go through all that effort when we knew there was no hope for a yes answer? Krissy's autism hinders her from seeking out the most basic of relationships. When she demands something, she assumes she deserves a yes. Which implies no need for a relationship or dependence on us. As she learns to ask and not demand, she is beginning to understand that she needs us, she needs relationships. "

That last part I put in italics sums up so much of what I struggle with in Reece, and Austin to some extent. It's also why RDI places such an emphasis on the 'master/apprentice' relationship! I have noticed it especially in the younger babies and toddlers of my friends. How they naturally look to mom for recognition that it's OK to proceed. The implied "You are my comfort and my safety... I look to you for guidance". I always joke that Austin and Reece never read the study that shows that toddlers won't wander more than a certain distance from their caretaker because they recognize that the safety lies with that person.

Anyway, it was very interesting to read that story! It helps me to verbalize something that is one of the core deficits in autism. And it's also such a fine line... Reece and Austin are clearly very loving and attached to me, and to other people in their lives. But when something doesn't work out as they had planned or expected, instead of looking to me (the master) for reassurance, they throw head-long into panic mode. And I find myself trying to calm down a child who isn't going to be calmed by anything I can do or say. It's frustrating, to say the least. I'm hoping it's something we can remediate through RDI as we get more involved with it!

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