FROM AMANDA: This week at the Autism Treatment Center of America, we have a six year old, high functioning child here for his Son-Rise Intensive Program. He is an amazing boy who loves to play with action figures, and often pretends he is a pirate, or a super hero saving the world. He is also a child who talks allot.
So if a child talks allot, how do you fit in your celebrations and explanations? I am going to share with you, the technique I felt was really effective for me. Listen, listen, listen, and then when he is done talking, celebrate or explain.
Yesterday in my session with this talkative child, we were playing a pirate game. It was an absolute blast. We were walking the plank on a ship, swimming in shark infested waters, and looking for gold. As we played, the child talked and gave me directions of exactly what he wanted me to do. As soon as he told me where to go and what to do, he would often go right into the next thing he had to say. I knew he was connected, because he would look at me every so often when he spoke to me. When he spoke, I knelt down so I was at or below his eye level and showed him I was listening intently to everything he had to say. I modeled this by shaking my head up and down, looking into his eyes, smiling, and being really animated. When he gave me a directive, I ran to do what he wanted me to do (e.g. walk the plank of our ship)to show the power of his words.
When this child was talking, I refrained from all verbal celebrations because I wanted to leave room for him to talk. So, to celebrate his eye contact, I smiled and pointed to my eyes and mouthed “I love that you are looking at me!” To celebrate him for talking, I waited until I had an open window to talk. For example, he had been role playing and talking for several minutes, and then stopped talking and walked up the slide. I took this opportunity to say “I am having so much fun with you. I love hearing all of your great ideas as we play.” Sometimes, he interjected and began to talk again, so I immediately stopped my celebrations and listened to him talk.
There were also times in our session, when the child asked a question and when I would attempt to answer, he would move on to his next question before I fully answered. When there was a break in his talking, I used explanations to say “You asked me a question earlier and I would really love to answer it for you. Good friends listen to what the other has to say.” after having said this, he often looked at me and listened intently to what I had to say.
Have fun listening!