The doctor is looking at your throat to see if it is red. A red throat hurts. The doctor can make it better. Open your mouth for the doctor. It will just be for a minute and then it will be all done. The doctor will be very careful. She won't hurt you.
All this language helps most young children get through such new and strange activities. A child with autism does not understand all that language though, so instead, we can find ways to show the child what will happen and reassure the child as best we can by making the activity familiar at least. This is when it is helpful to pull out your video camera and take a few pictures or make a short video clip.
Below is a video clip made for a little boy who will be asked next week to allow a Speech-Language Pathologist to touch his face in a new way as he plays a game that is already familiar to him. For most Autism Games readers, this activity will seem strange as well. Try to imagine how many times you might need to watch it, given no explanation, before you would feel that the activity was safe and acceptable.
For a young child with autism, many common activities are just as strange--hair cuts, dentists, walking a dog on a leash, eating outside at a picnic table. This video model provides some important information but probably will not provide all the information that he would like to have. 1) The child can see the sequence of things that will happen. 2) The child can see that the activity does not appear to cause his father any pain. 3) The child can see when the activity will end when all the rings are on the ring sorter. After watching this video, you may wish to read more about this strange activity below. One the other hand, you can skip the explanation and experience it more like a child with autism would.
In this video, Speech-Language Pathologist, Tamara Pogin is touching the face in a way that provides some information about how sounds in the word "on" are produced. This is a system that is used to help children who have a speech disorder called Apraxia. Deborah Hayden developed PROMPT (PROMPTs for Restructuring Oral Muscular Phonetic Targets) in the late 1970's. It has continued to develop and the system incorporates new research and evolving clinical perspectives. PROMPT focuses on tactile-kinesthetic input to oral motor structures for changing and shaping speech sounds. This is an alternative or additional method to typical speech treatment that relies mostly on auditory and visual input. For more information, see visit the PROMPT Institute Website.
Tamara Pogin, M.A. received training in an introductory PROMPT course. She is not a certified PROMPT therapist, however, she is allowed to practice PROMPT with this introductory training. For some children seen in our clinic, we have found this intervention to be helpful. The little boy for whom this video was made, in fact, seems very curious and motivated by these tactile cues, however, as you might imagine, it also feels quite strange to him and we hope that he will be able to tolerate having his face touched more easily if he watches this video.