Tuesday, August 4, 2009

How do I talk to a kid with autism?

From Tina Cruz, a Fullerton writer who has two children on the spectrum:

1. Ask questions about things you are interested in. Get him to talk about what you want… lead the conversation. If he starts in on Indiana Jones, change the subject…make it something related. “Yes, Indy was a really cool movie, but what did you think of Wall-E?” “Really? What did you like about it?” If you steer the conversation, it will go more smoothly.
2. Bring someone else into the conversation, and throw my son a bone…er, rather, a thread of conversation that he and the other person has in common. Once he is talking to the other person, escape! Yes, I am mostly kidding with this one! Besides, he would just catch you…
3. Be HONEST. Just tell him you can’t talk about that right now. That you are busy, maybe later you can discuss it. He probably won’t be hurt by it, he will appreciate your candor. But if you tell him this, know he has the memory of an elephant and long after you have forgotten? He will find you.
4. Play a game. I Spy, “I’m Thinking of a Word…” “When I Go To the Moon I’m Bringing…” these are all good choices. But don’t be surprised if he kicks your butt. The kid has an amazing attention to detail and his memory will blow you away.
5. Engage in an activity you both enjoy. Go to a ball game. Do a craft. Find time for one-on-one. Just know we are working on good sportsmanship to board games and video games…win or lose, he will shake your hand and say, “Good game!” Be prepared.
6. If all else fails, shoot me a look. I will rescue you both. Under no circumstances be unkind to him…he will remember it. You may not get a second chance.


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