“I want more oranges.”
He said it. No he really did say it and he was not at home but at a birthday party at school. Johnny’s teacher was so happy and excited she called me to let know the big news. Big news? Yes, because one word at a time is a little victory and each try at a new word is another little victory as well. But to put that many words together in an organized clear way is amazing.
In Johnny’s last speech block we worked on having him learn to put his hand on his chest and say “Johnny wants…” and then point and try and say the name of the item. We then worked with a “I want” strip so that he would learn to point to the correct PECs (Picture Exchange System) and try to say “I want” and then grab and say his choice.
In school the speech language pathologist and the autism support teacher have begun using PECs in the classroom and a choice board and its going very well. I think that for Johnny learning how to communicate is like me trying to learn to speak another language. I usually find that I can read it and understand it better that way but if someone asks me a question it takes me so long just to figure out which words to put together to say what I want to say and then I’m overwhelmed. The best thing is in both schools that Johnny goes to he is trying very hard to communicate with the teachers and with the other children.
Johnny’s receptive language skills are very high so you can easily tell him to to 2 and 3 step instructions and he will follow through. We find that we have to be careful what we say and spell out certain things as well. We are trying to help him become more independent in daily living skills ie. getting dressed and he’s really good at getting himself what he wants from the fridge for a long time. But with helping to learn to talk we have to help give him a reason to WANT TO TALK. So we have to almost interrupt him and have him tell us what he wants before he can open the fridge and get it. You risk getting Johnny frustrated but these are teaching moments so we try to stay as positive as possible and encouraging.
I have learned that when you teach a new task you need to break it down into many little steps and then its easier to learn and be successful at each step. It is incredibly satisfying to see how all these things come together. One little victory at a time.