Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Autistic communication

David had very poor expressive language and very good receptive language. He followed instructions. He would attend without putting his eyes on you. Yet at times I had to wonder what went on in his head. At the Day Treatment Center in Denver a number of different ways of expression were tried including sign language. And David learned single words that would make expressing himself easier.

One day my wife and I finished bathing him. Yvette toweled David off and we were getting his pajamas for him when he said,

"Mom, I want bean."

Neither she nor I were sure that we heard him right. "What do you want Dave?" I asked.

"I want bean."

Yvette and I looked at each other. Neither of us could figure what David wanted so I asked again. "You want bean?"

"Yeah," David said.

I was trying to get David to talk in complete sentences. "You want bean."

"I want bean," David repeated.

"Dave, what is bean?"

"I want bean," he repeated as if everybody knows what bean is.

I won't belabor this blog entry with the conversation that went back and forth frustrating all of us. It continued longer than I care to recount. Finally, I saw on the towel - L.L.Bean,

"You want the towel, Dave?" I asked tentatively.

"Yeah, I want bean," he replied.

I didn't know what to make of it. He was four years old. I didn't know he could read the word bean. It turned out that he could read that and a lot of other words as well. At the same time he could not ask for a towel. It was a strange experience, but this is how autistic conversation goes sometimes.

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