As you may have already known that most individuals with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) rarely socialize with others. It is one of their deficits. But there’s this one boy in the center really love to socialize! I would say that he’s the most sociable kid among all of the students there. & if you can believe this — he used to be non-verbal and now he wouldn’t stop talking and asking everyone some random questions. He’s still quite awkward in socializing but at least he’s doing it. It’s all about baby steps. Now, let’s call him AS. AS is very observant and his therapists have always been teaching him to talk or ask someone questions appropriately using the right words.
I just got my hair permed on Sunday and when I went to work on Monday. I obviously didn’t expect any student there would realize the difference of my hair.
Zoe: Hello AS!
AS: Hello Zoe!
Zoe: Wow, AS, you look so good today! Your shirt fits you so nicely!
AS: Zoe look good today…?
Liz (his therapist of the day): No, AS. YOU (emphasized on ‘you’, so that he listens better — we call this a within-stimulus prompt) look good today. Not Zoe.
AS: AS look good today…?
Zoe: You look so handsome today, AS!
Liz: (prompted) Thank you.
AS: Thank you!
(silence for barely 1 second)
AS: (pointed at my hair) Zoe… (mumbled) Nice hair!
Liz + Zoe: (both were surprised & looked at each other) Ohhhhh
Liz: (rearticulated) Zoe, you have nice hair!
AS: Zoe, you have nice hair!
Zoe: Oh, thank you! You noticed my hair!
We made a big deal about it and provided him with a lot of social reinforcerment as he really loves social reinforcement, that’s like his A+ reinforcement.
I was so surprised that he felt the urge to compliment me as I just gave him a compliment. I was also very surprised that he noticed there’s something different about my hair. Last but not least, he tried to use the words he knows of to compliment me although it wasn’t that fluent. Then again, it’s all about the awareness and effort! Liz was equally (if not more) as surprised as I was. These are the little things we discover everyday and we could go on & on about it for another few weeks.