Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Language and Scripting

"Hi, my name is Julie Clark, founder of the Baby Einstein company. For more information about our developmental products, visit our website at www.babyeinstein.com. Enjoy the show!"

You have no idea how many times a day I hear this. Our older son adores this statement. He'll say it over and over and over again, but I suppose we are the only ones who know what he's saying. His words sound nothing like the real thing, but don't take them for nonsense. They mean something to him--exactly what, I'm not sure. The day I repeated this blurb to him for the first time, he acted as though I was the first person to truly understand him.

This scripting happens absolutely all day long. Just because he is low verbal doesn't mean he doesn't make noise. He moves through life singing clips of baby einstein songs or repeating phrases from the Teletubbies. Some of them have been hard to decipher--it has taken me years to figure out some of them.

Experts say that scripting is a way for a person with autism to calm himself in a world that is otherwise out-of-control. Perhaps this is how his scripting started, but, for the most part, I think he does simply because that is his norm.

The language in this household is in large part to blame for my fried brain. Sure, having a low verbal child presents parenting challenges when there is a crisis and no language to offer clues to the problem. I don't mind that. Helping a child is a parent's job. I'm more referring to how language fits into the day-to-day climate of this house.

Picture our younger son trailing after me no matter where I go in the house, spewing his latest thoughts without even a pause.

"Mom! When I get to school tomorrow, I'm going to tell everyone my latest plan. For our game of chase during recess, Aidan is going to run to the left and climb up the rock wall. Eva, well, I'll just chase her. Erin will run to the right by the monkey bars. We will sneak up on all the others--no, maybe we should run screaming. Yes, we will run screaming--and catch other unsuspecting participants. Maybe Aidan should break right. No, I want to break right. He always breaks right and then I can't get to Eva, and she needs to be put in the jailhouse..."

Truly, I don't care about the rudiments of their game of chase. What's more, he doesn't care that I don't care. All he needs is a warm body off of which to bounce his words. He loves his words. Frankly, they drive me nuts.

In the meantime, our older son will pass by us.

"Hi, my name is Julie Clark, founder of the Baby Einstein company. For more information about our products, visit our website at www.babyeinstein.com. Enjoy the show!"

Doesn't anyone speak any functional language around here???

Between my 10-year-old Julie Clark and his overly chatty younger brother, sometimes a mom can feel pretty lonely for conversation during the day. Furthermore, truth be told, I have a threshold for that stuff. There's just only so much senseless chatter a person can take in a day's time. Ater a while, it hurts my brain.

At some point, if you can't beat them, you simply must stop life and join them.

"Hi, Julie Clark, my name is mom, founder of everything in this house. For more information about the level of my sanity, visit my website at www.fromthemomcave.blogspot.com. Enjoy your day!" Sometimes I think wackiness suits me.

"All done," our older son says. He doesn't like my version of crazy.

"Would it be better if I were Julie Clark?" I asked.

"Better," he said. And then he proceeds to hold my chin in his hand in an effort to make my mouth move to form the familiar words of the script. Over and over and over again, I repeat these words. His eyes watch me intently--my lips, the expression in my eyes, my throat and how it moves. He'll place a hand on my neck to feel the vibration of my words.

I try to mix it up--adding words or pausing until he asks me to continue-- all in an attempt to increase his interaction with me. Frankly, he's so locked into my sharing his scripting, that the level of interaction can't get much better. However, the goal isn't so much increasing the quality of interaction. It is more about increasing the quantity of interaction. Longer. I want him to be WITH me longer.

Tired of Julie Clark, I throw in some Teletubbies.

"And then, the door disappeared!" I said.

He jumped to life.

"And then, the harp disappeared!" he said back to me.

"Nah," I countered. "I'm in a door kind-of-mood."

"The door works for me," younger son said as he sauntered by us. "And then, the door disappeared!"

This is how our younger son has learned to converse with his brother. In our house, it is akin to talk at the dinner table. It's interaction on our level.

I actually speak Teletubbies and Baby Einstein very well. It's my conversation skills with typically developing adults that are starting to slip...


  1. You express yourself in the written word beautifully - no worry about the adult conversation skills - most of what adults talk about anyhow is junk, nonsense, or just plain depressing. Of course this being said from someone who is fairly inept socially. I was reading your comment on the low verbal when there is a crisis thing and this is where we differ - I go bonkers at not being able to know if Zach is hurting or ill. Of course, you are a few years down the road ahead of us so perhaps you figured this out and it is a matter of time for our family. Or perhaps I will just always wig out over it. As always, thank you for sharing.

  2. Leanne, thank you very much for commenting, and I absolutely think that it is just a matter of time for your family. Zach is young. Hopefully with age come some coping skills for both of you. Every child is different--for us, this has only come together within a year or so. Our older son has a lot going on medically.

    High emotions make processing difficult for us all and even more so when you have language barriers. In time, you'll both be a little more comfortable. Not everything will be a crisis. I hope that time hits you all sooner than it did us!

  3. Awesome post Amy! Love, love, love your honesty about the fine line of sanity we parents of SN kids walk. Without our humor {and blogs} well, Lord help us all! The scripting is not as bad as it used to be for us, but a great indicator for anxiety in my little guy. His best scripting moment was this summer, thanks to Toy Story 3, all we heard was, "hey kids, get outta my butt", thanks Pixar!

  4. I actaully had to laugh out loud at this post. I just posted on my own blog about my Little Man, and his expereince with the Baby Einstien videos. I was searching for a Julie Clark quote to use and found your post. What is it about Baby Einstein and Special Needs!? If you are inclined check out my post. Best regards!