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.


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?)

Jenny said...

Wow that is so well said. Thank you :)

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