Sunday, December 8, 2013

Why Do We Never Get An Answer

Pervasive Parenting
By Kodey Toney

Why Do We Never Get An Answer

In a recent column I started talking about a book I have been reading. “The Reason I Jump" by Naoki Higashida, translated by David Mitchell, is an account of living with autism from a teen with low verbal skills. I'd like to share a couple more interesting points from this book.

One question asked was, "Why do you ask the same questions over and over?" I've noticed this at times with Konner. He will ask something like, "Where are my shoes?", and my response will be either that I don't know or maybe in your room. He will come back with the same question in a minute or two. I've often times wondered if he's even listening to my response.
Naoki gives a simple response, but it helps us understand what may be going on inside. He said, “I very quickly forget what it is I’ve just heard."
For this very reason mornings are almost always a bad experience in our house. This forgetfulness mixed with Konner's Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) causes my patience to wear pretty thin. The fact that I'm not a morning person just amplifies the situation.
I'll ask Konner to do a simple task like, "Konner can you find your shoes?" I make sure that I say his name first so that he understands I'm talking to him. I try to make sure he's directly in front of me, and that he hears me. I'll often ask him, "Do you understand?", and wait for a response. I try to give him choices like, "Look in your room and in the computer room." 
I'll look up five minutes later and he's still running through the house back and forth screaming. 
So I then say (or yell sometimes), "Konner, what did I just ask you to do?" His response is almost always, "I don't know daddy."
Then we have to go through it again. 
Other times his memory is very impressive. He can remember things about trains, Minecraft, math, and television programs that I don't understand. I wonder sometimes if he just has selective hearing.
Naoki explains, “My memory, however, is more like a pool of dots. I’m always “picking up” these dots—by asking my questions—so I can arrive back at the memory that the dots represent.”
What this means is that as he asks a question and gets an answer he stores them away in his brain as dots. We store data in a continuous stream, like a timeline. We try to recall things as they happen by events of that day. People on the spectrum have to sort through the dots to find the information they need to remember things, and then express them verbally. Thus is probably why it takes them some time to respond when questioned. 
This is only a small look at verbal issues, but I hope it helps shed a little light on the difficulties of communication. 

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