Organizing the Autistic Mind Part 2
Scarecrow from The
Wizard of Oz
Why, if I had a brain I could...
[singing] I could while away the hours,
Conferrin' with the flowers,
Consultin' with the rain.
And my head I'd be scratchin'
While my thoughts were busy hatchin'
If I only had a brain.
In last week's blog I talked about the characteristics of
the right and left sides of the brain and how they do not dance together in people with autism/ASD. I
gave you twenty signs that I see (and there are more) that indicate how Mr.
Left Brain and Mrs. Right Brain dance alone. Because there is no cure for autism,
we are not going to teach Mr. Left Brain and Mrs. Right Brain to dance the Viennese
waltz. There are many strategies that SLPs bring to the table to assist high
functioning children and adults with autism that can help mesh the two sides of
None of these are
accomplished short term. Repeat, repeat, repeat across ages and environments
and with a variety of stimuli.
The term "joint attention" is related to
how well the person with autism relates to what is going on around him/her. I
have given you several blogs that pertain to attending. Review my blogs dated May
19 , June
2, and July
7. Each of these offers great ideas for attention/focus that will help mesh
Everything in our world can be
categorized into one or more groups. Take an apple for instance. A simple apple
can be in the groups of: food, fruit, color, shape, size, weight, taste, and
even where it grows. Categorizing helps organize our world so that we can sort
things out, put them in order, and make sense of them (I'll be doing a future blog
on a fun activity for categorizing).
In my Autism Spectrum Blogs dated April
7 and April
14, I talk about adults and movies with people dealing with ASD. Sequencing
is always a difficult aspect of life for those with ASD and it seems to be
overlooked as a direct component in many programs that deal with autism. It
shouldn't be, because in the world of employment, sequencing is paramount.
Those with ASD take everything literally
and are unable to "digest" figurative language. My blog of July
21 helps the SLP get started with What's
Silly about That? This is so much fun with verbal children/adults with
autism and the teaching/learning skills are so expansive.
The power of humor is enormous and can
change a cloudy day for sure. People with ASD often do not laugh appropriately.
SLPs need to teach them. Refer to two of my past blogs on humor, What's
Silly About That and Laughing
at Language to get some ideas of where to begin with this high functioning
Generalization is so difficult for
people on the autism spectrum. The SLP or parent can teach something in one
situation but it often does not carryover into another event. I often use "remember
when" or "remember where" statements. These are reminders of former events that
are similar to the one taking place. This is also a positive time to use Social
Stories by Carol Gray and review
In the Wizard of Oz, 1939, the Wizard was an
impostor, but he granted Dorothy's friends the qualities in life they thought
they lacked; for the Scarecrow, it was a brain. The Wizard reminds the
Scarecrow about the universality of brains and then presents him with a rolled
up diploma. The Scarecrow demonstrates
his brainpower by placing his finger to his head and incorrectly reciting a
mathematical formula, the Pythagorean Theorem. "How can I ever thank you
enough?" he asked the Wizard.
My own son, Doug, who
has ASD, thanked me before he graduated from Chaparral High School, Las Vegas,
Nevada, on June 4, 1990 at high noon with a class rank of 72 out of 442, with a
regular diploma. He placed a Precious Moments statue in my hands, God Bless You, Graduate. "Thanks mom."
Doug's words were few. He'd said it all.
"Speech pathologists make good things