Today I’m writing about something one of my ASD kiddos taught me. I had been working with a client who was nonverbal for quiet a while with very little progress despite using every trick of the trade and every fun toy I had up my “speech sleeve”. I had tried EVERY reinforcer known to man when one day I just threw many hands up in the air and decided I needed a break. So I sat back, watched quietly, and did absolutely nothing.
For 5 LONG minutes I watched as my client sat on the floor in the W position playing with the same sensory toy when it happened. A miracle! A wonder of wonders! Speech therapy magic! The most beautiful word I had every heard came out of his mouth and floated ever so slowly to my ears, “This”. That was it. “This”. Was there every a more beautiful word heard in your life? At that moment I didn’t think so.
I slipped out of my seat and joined my newly verbal friend on the floor playing with toys. It didn’t matter what I was doing really, it just mattered that I was on the sidelines. I commented on what the child was doing and waited. Waited. And waited some more. Then a second word, “On”. YES! That toy was turned on! You know got it buddy!
I realized at that moment that the reason my client wasn’t “talking” was because I was doing too much of it already. Why did he even have to? And how could he possibly think with me throwing one comment after another at him? Sometimes we are just giving our clients TOO much auditory stimulation and we need to just zip our lips!
Our therapy sessions continued like this week after week and those verbalizations began to occur more and more often, until he was speaking in phrases and sentences!