20 October 2010

Quite Literally

I've read that ASD kids often take language quite literally. I'm beginning to recognise this in Nipper and so I'm trying to be a bit more careful in how I phrase things. Getting to grips with how to best communicate with an autistic child is a really steep learning curve!

I've been trying to get Nipper to get himself dressed on his own. This is especially important as he has swimming lessons at school and needs to be able to dress himself again afterwards. I gave Nipper his clothes (all neatly folded up and in a pile - bad idea) and told him to 'put his clothes on'. I wandered off into the kitchen and left him to it. This is what I saw when I came back a few moments later:

Standing there, almost starkers, with his clothes on his head! Well, he'd put them ON alright!

Now I realise that I need to be very specific in what I tell him and that I need to lay out his clothes so that he can see each item clearly and in the order in which he needs to put them on. Haven't quite worked out yet how to get him to put stuff on the right way round. He comes out of school after swimming with his pants and trousers on the wrong way round. You'd think he'd be uncomfortable but he doesn't seem to notice. It's currently taking about 25 minutes and a lot of reminding/prompting for him to get dressed but I guess we'll get there eventually.



  1. That is very true. Tim's brother doesn't understand abstract phrases such as 'put yourself in his shoes'.

  2. I still forget this, Tilly. The other day I said to A, "who do you think you are talking to?"... You can imagine his reply. x

  3. Ahh, bless him! This is really interesting as, at EarlyBirds this week, we learnt about something called "backward chaining". Basically, this means that, when you're trying to teach your child a new skill you start off by only getting them to do the final step. So, with getting dressed, that might be putting on his t-shirt. Once he's confident with that you then get him to do the last 2 steps, then the last 3 and so on until he's finally doing it all by himself. This is also where visual timetables might help. When Joe was in yr 1 he had a little strip with pictures on for getting changed for PE - as he completed each bit he could take the symbol off the strip. Joe doesn't seem to have much trouble with the literal thing, but we do have to be quite clear and to the point with our speech sometimes. It is very easy to forget though!

  4. oh bless,

    i used to key work an autistic child and remember how detailed i would have to in my expectations; sounds like you are doing a fab job x

  5. He sounds gorgeous and I am looking forward to reading more of your blog. The putting the clothes on thing sounds very much like my boys, both of whom take everything very literally as well. Patience is the key I think, sometimes I know that doesn't come in bucket loads though x

  6. Ahh he's so cute! My son at 5 is getting quite good at getting dressed now, although he struggles with socks. He likes to undress himself wherever he is though, be it at home, out or in the classroom! He too comes home with trousers on back to front!

  7. Such an interesting blog,I too am looking forward to reading more. Joannaxx


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