Coding The Language

from a mom with an autistic daughter

To understand the patterns of language in a high functioning autistic child, it by far the most mysterious, a most challenging to me and at the same time, the most interesting aspect of autism that I have encountered. I have yet to come across two autistic children who have the same patterns of language. Each one has their own very unique style and that is what makes it so interesting.
When a kid is on the spectrum, who is verbal is asked a question, “how did you scrap your knee?”, the way they would answer would be very different from another kid on the spectrum, the challenge is in both cases is , neither child’s answer can be understandable at times.
So, while one might say, “I will go to Publix again, I don’t care” and the other one might say something like, “how many times have I told you, please behave” with a tone resembling of the mother . All this leaves you wondering, I only asked a simple question, “how did you scrap your knee?” and they are answering in gibberish, and you might like to completely give up trying to ask the kid what happened. Well, the fact of the matter is, both of the kids have answered your question, according to their level of expression. She only does not know how to word her thoughts for us to understand, all the time.
So how to crack their code? Well, Its simple. Try an find a connection between whatever she is saying and the question asked, mothers are excellent interpreters of this language as they are with their kids most of the time. One has to look at what really may have happened to the kid. When she says, I will go to Publix again, I don’t care, as a mother she figures out what happened by putting the pieces together , did someone bump her, maybe she tripped and no one saw, did someone say to her and she fell over, Is there a possibility that he might have tried to pick up and someone said something so she put it back and scraped her knee . But the parent will have to take the initiative in finding out the connection between Publix and her knee. Simply discarding her words as gibberish can be very damaging to the child if she doesn’t get the necessary support she wants from her parents and also the fact that her self-esteem would take a huge beating when even her mother does not understand her.
I have observed that parents get frustrated not being able to understand their kid and get angry at a there kid and will say things like, “Why can’t you talk right? and tell me how did you get that?” The child upon being scolded gets further demotivated to even try to express and will choose to rather keep to themselves.
So try to never get frustrated at the kid and or shout as the child would have spoken straight if she could understand that she needs help. I know it’s not easy to understand what happened or what went wrong. Just take baby steps. Break everything that happened into smaller pieces and ask questions such as “You went to Publix yesterday?”
Your child should answer “yes” or “no”, that’s easy for her. Then next step is to ask you went with———— (be specific)
she will answer “Yes ” or “no”
She will be able to answer then question accordingly.
From a series of “yes” and “no” questions,you should find out the true story, also use various resources such as her friends. Finally, when you are fully aware of what happened , sit down with her and very politely, even if it was his mistake, don’t scold. Sit down and teach her “when we get hurt and someone asks how did you get hurt, we answer like this :
Then start giving the entire sequence of events make her repeat after you,
“I went to Publix”
I walked around with Erin. ”
“I was looking at the flowers and smelling them and fell down”
You will have taught your child how to recall and tell the event like it happened.
This very skill not only helps your child in everyday life but also immensely helps with school.
So the key factor to decoding a coded language is to find a connection between the question and the answer and not by either dropping the conversation or by scolding or shouting at the kid.

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