Thursday, April 25, 2013

Autism Understanding & Acceptance 2013, Day 24


This fascinates me, learning how his brain works.

A lesser-known language idiosyncrasy with autism is scrolling. Thomas engages in this, too. Scrolling is a verbal running-through of several phrases, one after the other. Scrolling differs from scripting in that scripting is one word/sound/phrase said over & over, while scrolling really is a list of phrases.

When he gets stressed, he will scroll through phrases that he has heard in the past that have stressed him out (i.e. no touch toilet, stop playing with the microwave, etc). This is how I know that he is getting on edge. It starts in his usual tone but if he isn’t able to de-escalate, his voice gets more urgent and the tears well up in his eyes, eventually he is yelling those phrases, and by then he just has to have a good screaming cry to get it out.

Side note: I will never forget the first time he cried into my chest. It happened in our kitchen here in Indianapolis, so he was at least 6 years old. Until then, when he cried he did not want to be consoled; it was too much sensory input. I couldn’t hold my boy when he cried. My heart exploded with joy when he finally accepted my hugs to console him, but broke at the same time due to his tears. My shirt front was soaked when he was done, and I had never been so happy to have my shirt all mussed up.

There was a time when I was actually quite concerned for myself due to one of his scripts. This particular script was “Be gentle”. Hoo boy, that was a tough one. As stated above, when stressed, he repeats words or phrases he’s heard previously that have stressed him out. We didn’t have several phrases back when he was about 4-5 years old, just this one phrase. Back then, he did have some undesirable behaviors – pinching the caregiver, especially. Ouch. My direction to him was telling him to be gentle. Well, this kid really wants to be good, and feels awful when corrected. So hearing “Be gentle” really stressed him out, and eventually he started saying “Be gentle” when getting over-stimulated. This was particularly awesome (insert sarcastic tone) when out in public. What would you think if you heard a kid saying to his mom “Be gentle! BE GENTLE!” in a grocery store or walking through the mall? I admit I was preparing myself to be arrested or reported to DCS. I am quite in earnest here, no joking around. I am glad to report that I have no arrest record and am not aware of any reports to DCS.

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