Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Art of Conversation

I've tried to explain Isaac's type of communication to people. It's so hard because traditionally people think that when you say someone has trouble communicating they think in terms of "verbal" or "non verbal."

You can have a conversation with Isaac. But it can be difficult and completely all over the place. This article does such an excellent job explaining the difficulties that autistic kids can have socially, even though these children are exceptionally bright. Below is an excerpt from what would be a normal conversation with Isaac except that unlike Alex, it would take Isaac a lot longer to get back to the original conversation if he was especially fixated on the topic of instruments.

Math and numbers are easy for 10-year-old Alex Lee. He can tell you what pi is out to 100 digits.

But Alex doesn't do so well with chitchat. On a late fall day, he meets with psychologist Brian Freedman.

Alex asks Freedman if he knows how to play the piano.

Freedman starts to reply that the two weren't having a conversation about pianos, but Alex interrupts him: "What instrument do you play?"

"Hang on," Freedman repeats, "were we talking about me playing the piano?"


"What were we talking about?" Freedman asks again.

"What instrument do you play?" Alex continues.

"Were we talking about me playing instruments?" says Freedman.

Finally, Alex replies, "No."

"No," Freedman agrees.

Coicidentally, Math and Numbers are Isaac's strong suit as well. And, with the great progress he makes with his coaching, I have no doubt that Isaac will be making great conversational strides like the example in the article!