“Mommy, how many dinosaurs?”
“Mommy, how many horse?”
“Very good. How many butterfly?
“That’s right mommy! How many owl?”
“Mommy, how many elephant?”
“No. Try again. How many elephant?”
“Very good mommy. How many horse?”
The poster has ten animals on it and eventually we get through all ten. How long it takes is up to me and how my memory is faring. As soon as one round is finished, the arm on the record resets and we are right back to, “Mommy, how many dinosaurs?”
It seems like a great conversation. Here is Ben, communicating and having a true back and forth interaction. But alas, here is where Autism rears its ugly head! Welcome to the world of Echolalia. Not familiar with this word? We weren’t either until we had been ushered into this new world. “Echolalia, sometimes referred to as “scripting”, is the repetition of words, phrases, intonation, or sounds of the speech of others, sometimes taken from movies, but also sometimes taken from other sources such as favorite books or something someone else has said.” (Source: AutismSpeaks.org)
Ben has the amazing ability to make this rote speech sound natural, organic, and spontaneous. The only difference, is that we have been through this exact sequence of questions and answers 23 times this evening and 1.3 million times before it. The intonation never changes. The combinations of praise and rebuff never differ from the script. The only thing that does change is my ability to remember which numbers belong with which animals. As with most kids, this kind of interaction always occurs when your hands are in a soapy sink of dishes.
Patience is… responding the the 1,300,001st question, even though the answer hasn’t changed since the previous 1,300,000 times. Patience is… answering over and over to feel some semblance of a normal conversation with your three year old. Plus.. how can you say no to that face!