Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Opportunities to Reference by Playing 'Hangman'

One early non-verbal foundation of joint attention (theory of mind) is referencing. We reference the physical and concrete (manipulative mode) first, and later, reference at higher, abstract levels. A child will not be able to reference meaning in someone's mind if that child does not (can't) reference in physical and concrete ways.

Giving the child opportunities to reference visually is important. I'm not talking about eye contact. I am referring to referencing for meaning.

On a yahoo list called Autism-remediation-for-our-children, where parents share ideas with one another, one parent recently shared using the game "Hangman" to give her daughter repeated opportunities to reference for meaning.

I got permission to share it here:
we played hangman. I drew the gallows, and the space for the letters in the word on the board (we have a chalkboard) and sat side-by-side and then I gave my daughter the chalk. She already was familiar with the game, so that was a non-issue. What was different here, was I was completely non-verbal. She would guess the letter and would have her chalk held in the air, ready to write, while I paaauuused, maybe vocalizing, "Hmmmmmm..." and then when she would eventually turn to reference, I was ready with clear non-verbal communication (face, body language) it got more proficient, I just did the facial expression. It was hard at first, b/c we were working on a weakness, but eventually she got it! I never directly asked her to look at me, so that she could make the discovery developmentally.
The example was too beautiful not to share. I wish I'd read this when we were busy extinguishing referencing in ABA drills.

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