More on the auditory language dysfunction (See – Day #333 – Calling Names) Here is that list again (from http://www.sensory-processing-disorder.com/sensory-processing-disorder-checklist.html.)
_x_ unable to locate the source of a sound
__ difficulty identifying people’s voices
__ difficulty discriminating between sounds/words; i.e., “dare” and “dear”
_x_ difficulty filtering out other sounds while trying to pay attention to one person talking
_x_ bothered by loud, sudden, metallic, or high-pitched sounds
_x_ difficulty attending to, understanding, and remembering what is said or read; often asks for directions to be repeated and may only be able to understand or follow wo sequential directions at a time
_x_ looks at others to/for reassurance before answering
_x_ difficulty putting ideas into words (written or verbal)
_x_ often talks out of turn or “off topic”
_x_ if not understood, has difficulty re-phrasing; may get frustrated, angry, and give up
__ difficulty reading, especially out loud (may also be dyslexic)
_x_ difficulty articulating and speaking clearly
_x_ ability to speak often improves after intense movement
A couple nights ago I was reminded of the “looks at others to/for reassurance before answering” factor. I was talking to Tucker on the phone and in regular scripting fashion here is what happened…
Me: “Tell everyone I said hello.”
Him: “Okay Mom. I love you. Good night.”
Me: “Good night.”
Him: “Oh wait. Mom, tell everyone there I said hello.”
Classic. Classic scripting.
While this is a classic example of scripting it also a part of looking to others for reassurance. If Tucker is in a new situation he may not always know what to say. He will use scripting to make sense of a situation. If the situation doesn’t match something that already exists in his repertoire he will choose something close.
That makes him nervous – so he’ll often look at me while he’s talking to someone else for reassurance. He’s wondering if he’s saying the right thing, to the right person, in the right situation.
However, as I think about this more I wonder if he’s looking at me to help him find the words or looking at me for approval. Those are two very different things – one has to do with language, the other situation.
I’m guessing it’s a bit of both.
First, he’s looking at me for approval that he is ‘on the right track’ with whatever he has to say. He wants so badly to create relationships and have them be meaningful. I also chose to write about this today after his first day of school. I asked how it went and he answered, “Not so good. None of my friends are in my classes.” I tried to cheer him up and talked about making new friends. His reply? “My old friends are fine. I don’t need new ones.”
Yes, this is normal middle-school behavior – but for him it’s amplified. It’s amplified because he has to begin creating relationships all over again and that it incredibly difficult. It’s difficult because he has to figure out how to create new conversation. Those new conversations have to exist without any relationship history. He has nothing to ‘go on’ – it’s all him.
Him searching his brain for ‘situations like this.’ It’s not just beginning a new friendship – it’s like learning to communicate all over again.
The other reason he looks to me is that I will help him if he gets stuck. Sometimes it still takes him just a bit longer to find the words, put them together, and make sense of them. After being his mother for 13 years I generally know where he is trying to go when he begins talking.
I also help him regulate conversation. Unfortunately, others don’t always wait for him to get his words out. He can grow increasingly frustrated. He used to shout his ideas over another; now he’ll simply stop participating in the conversation.
He NEEDS the conversation, so when he is interrupted I will often point the conversation back towards him by saying, “Tucker, you were saying…. We’d like to hear the rest of your thought.” This gives him the go-ahead and lets the other person politely know that they should wait for him to finish his thought.
As he has matured both of these moments happen less – but they still happen, especially in these new situations. So, what’s the plan?
A simple, gentle reminder to his teachers – a simple reminder that he may need a little help and some extended patience in these beginning weeks of the school year. Putting him into small groups with students who will reach out and helping him engage in conversation with those students are two very good strategies to keep him from being on the outside.
The outside is a tough place to be…