What’s Silly About That?
When I teach people with ASD, one of the best indicators of how well they understand language is their ability to laugh appropriately, find a sense of humor in everyday situations, and to make jokes themselves. Humor is a level of understanding that people with ASD will need in social and business relationships throughout their lives. This understanding must start early in life and the SLP is the number one person to implement it. Just so you know, humor - and gaining a sense of it - is one of the most difficult areas of language for a person with ASD.
I'm going to shoot you some examples of how to start teaching humor to three different levels of clients with ASD.
These are always implemented with:
- A surprise in YOUR
- Use of visual objects
- Use of familiar objects
- Laughter and fun
easy to start and it's so much fun
With the non-verbal child
- I say, "It's my turn to touch your book."
- The child is holding his favorite dinosaur.
- I touch it and say, "I touched your book."
- Hopefully, the child looks at me with a surprise on his/her face and pulls the dinosaur away - at that moment of reading the child's facial expression, I know that he knows it is NOT a book.
- I say, "Oh, Ms. Kathie, Joey doesn't have a book. He has his dinosaur."
With the verbal, slightly older child
Me: "Today I went out in my backyard and fed my elephant before I came to school. What's silly about that?"
Child: "An elephant in your backyard?"
Me: "Do you think I'd have an elephant in my yard? Why is that silly?"
Child: "That's silly. You don't have an elephant."
Me: "What could I have in my backyard then?"
Together we name pets that I could have in my yard. What I'd feed them. Where we could find an elephant and what the elephant might eat. All the while, we are laughing and having fun with language. Yes, learning IS fun.
Me: "I rode my horse to school today, so I tied him up in the parking lot."
Child: "You didn't ride a horse."
Me: "Oh, maybe not. Then how did I get to school?"
This type of "silliness" can open up many language areas including function, categorization, prepositions, part/whole, vocabulary, size/shape, etc.
With the adult
Don't give up on the adult with ASD - not ever. When you, as the SLP, have the opportunity to work with adults with ASD you must always imbed silliness and humor. This is survival in the social, working world. I know because my son is there. Doug has climbed mountains and he has had more language pumped in him than any human on Earth, but many of those innuendoes of language continue to elude him. It's the figurative language, the sarcasm, and the idioms that we as SLPs need to pump into these clients from middle school on up. There are lists upon lists of these in therapy books - use them.
- Start every speech therapy session with upper elementary through high school students with a "What's silly about this/that" statement such as, "I went to the post office to buy some milk. What's silly about that?"
- Have the students make up his/her own "What's silly?" questions.
- Make a bulletin board entitled "What Silly About This?"
- Bring in cartoons, examples from real life, and current events.
So tell your kids, whatever their ages and stages, or whatever diagnosis they might have,
"Today I heard a kitten bark, or a frog moo, or saw a dog fly."
They'll laugh and think you're silly. That's what language is all about.
"Speech pathologists make good things happen."