So on Day #43 I introduced readers to the idea of scripting, “I used to refer to Tucker as my tape recorder (albeit not in front of him). He talks like I do. He found a way to memorize the words, phrases, and verbal intonations I use in any given situation. I also worked with him, tirelessly and patiently. When he responded with something inappropriate I would simply respond, “Tucker, this would work better in that situation.” No matter how embarrassing it was [what he said]. I never attacked or shamed or embarrassed him, I simply needed him to learn.”
Others refer to this phenomenon as ‘delayed echolia.’ Echolia may be more of an official definition of the process. The delay in speech response is attached to a deeper level of processing language. He’s able to go into his long-term memory, find what he needs to say, and use it to respond.
Most readers know that I don’t hide much from Tucker…I never have. Right or wrong I’ve always believed that it’s best if he understands how he is BOTH alike and different. With that – how important it is that he treasures his differences.
So, yesterday I tackled a bit of a hill. I decided to tell him about scripting. Here is how the conversation went.
Me: Tucker, have you ever heard of scripting?
Me: Well, it’s something that we all do – but people who have autism do it even more.
Tucker: Do I do it?
Tucker: What is it?
Me: Tell me how difficult it is to put a sentence of words together.
Tucker: Pretty hard, they get jumbled before I get them out of my mouth. Sometimes it’s easier…but yeah, it can be difficult.
Me: Right. So, what happens is that your brain is SO smart and SO unique that it has memorized lots of phrases and then you ‘replay’ them. Kind of like pushing play on a tape player.
Tucker: Huh. Yeah. That makes sense.
Me: It’s one of the reasons that you sounded so ‘grown-up’ at such a young age. Like when you were six and you hit the back of Grandma’s car seat and said, “C’mon Bessie, let’s get moving.”
Tucker: Did I really say that?
Me: Yes, and you heard it in Toy Story, so you replayed it when you wanted Grandma to go faster. Does that make sense?
Me: Your brain is pretty fantastic, huh?
Tucker: I think that’s pretty cool.
Me: Me too.
So – that was the conversation. Nothing too big…except then this happened. Every single thing he said the rest of the night was preceded by, “I’m scripting now. I heard this phrase while playing Madden football in 2013. ____.” “I’m scripting now. I heard my friend Dom say this when he was 7. ___.”
What? Yes. I’m not joking. Once I brought scripting to his attention he was able to provide the context in which he memorized the phrase. Amazingly awesome and insanely insane – all at the same time.
At the end of the night he said, “Mom. This scripting thing. It’s weird. I can remember learning that phrase from my 4th grade teacher almost four years ago, but I can’t remember where I put my shoes every day. What’s wrong with me?”
My answer? Simple. A big hug while I kissed his forehead and whispered, “Absolutely nothing, Tucker. Absolutely nothing.”
He smiled…and nodded.