A Modern Day Fairy Tale

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Conversations with Shaun {The Trouble With Speech Is...}

As most of you already know, one of the big, early signs of Autism is delays in speech. For some, that means they are completely nonverbal. For others, like my son the words are there, but aren't functional and conversations are a struggle. While most typically developing kids naturally learn to carry on conversations on their own, kids with Autism often need to be taught.

For Shaun, that meant teaching him how to respond to specific questions when asked by modeling the response. For example, we would ask him, "How old are you?" and then tell him how to answer, "I'm five"...and he would repeat that back. Of course these were questions to which there was only one correct answer, but the idea was that eventually he would learn to answer other questions, such as "What's your favorite food?" on his own. And after some time, it really worked...he started answering those learned questions without the prompt, and eventually did learn to answer more questions independently. (Though it's still something we work on...)

So, then why the title of this post? While this little trick worked well for him, he also picked up on the pattern- ask a question, tell them how to respond. So lately, our conversations have gone a little like this:

Shaun: Mommy, say 'what happened?'
Mommy: What happened?
Shaun: Well, you see there was this Marine bullying me... Now say, 'Daddy, stop bullying Shaun.'
Mommy: Daddy, stop bullying Shaun.
Shaun: He did it on purpose.

(For the record, Daddy was not bullying Shaun- one of his favorite Thomas youtube videos lately has been about bullying. He's also been throwing around the phrase, 'they did it on purpose' frequently as well. I'm not certain where he picked that up, but if he trips, the floor did it on purpose and I am to yell at the floor...silly kid!)

Or another example:

Shaun: Mommy, I want a new Thomas train.
Mommy: No, not today.
Shaun: Don't say no. Say 'sure'.

These are just a couple of examples that we hear fairly frequently, but truly he will use this in any conversation! After all, that's how he was taught, right? It's absolutely adorable...though not so good at the same time. Still despite his struggles, I am still completely astounded at how far he has truly come since day one on this journey. So, it is something we continue to work on with him, and I know one day soon, he'll figure it out and conversations will be much more natural...we just have to be more careful about how we teach him.

Ah, life with Autism- you never know quite what to expect!


  1. It is sweet though. One day at a time - through Christ we know to approach things this way. Wishing you continued blessings and success in your teachings with Shaun. You're doing a good job mama!


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