Thursday, November 26, 2009

Imitation Is Not A Primary Foundation Of Communication

I am thankful for professionals who understand the course of development and the foundations of communication so that they can help me help my child.

I'm frustrated that some professionals, usually from a behavioral "camp", still think that imitation is a primary foundation of communication.

Check out the quote in an opinion piece about insurance legislation mandate woes in Pennsylvania:

"Children with autism don't have one therapist, they have a team - beginning with applied behavioral analysts. They don't pattern behavior after adults. They need to be taught to imitate, then communicate. They require speech and occupational therapists."

Imitation alone is not a foundation of reciprocal communication. Imitation is a foundation for echolalia: "Look at me!" + "Do This!" = a prototype for echolalia.

We had the applied behavioral analysts who worked on imitation first. We didn't get reciprocal communication from that route, because we created a child who could copy, imitate, but not interact. Imitation is certainly handy when you have a child who is unable to interact. A parent can throw both arms in the air and say, "Do this!" before removing a toddler's shirt for a bath, for example. In development, imitation is preceded by non-verbal reciprocity, turn taking, meaning making, and imitation is not a developmental stage that is directly targeted by parents. Children learn imitation naturally out of reciprocity and joint attention.

Children with autism need professionals who understand development (first) and behavior.

3 comments:

Stranded said...

story of our life. We are lucky we work with such professionals from the beginning. The problem with it is that they are the only 5 people who work that way in the whole of fricking province of Ontario in Canada. So if anyone decides to leave or get married, go on a life adventure, have a baby or whatever, which they have every right to do of course, we are left in the cold surrounded by simple minded, tunnel-visioned "professionals" who cannot look beyond what they have been taught. The more I learn the more I want to home school.

Penny said...

I am homeschooling for that very reason. Have you read my post about why I finally decided to homeschool (after wrestling w/ the decision for tooooooo many years?)

http://notnewtoautism.blogspot.com/2008/12/why-i-decided-to-homeschool.html

Jennie said...

Wow that is so well said. Thank you :)
-Jennie

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