Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Clinic Notes: Acting and Autism

One of the most challenging areas for clinicians who work with children with autism is teaching them to notice social cues in others and modify their behavior accordingly. Most children learn these cues as they interact in daycare and other social encounters. But the child with autism seems not to notice. I've watched many children with autism trying to have a "conversation" with normally developing children and fail to notice the obvious cues of disinterest and boredom. Simon Baron-Cohen notes that social interactions are brief and the window of learning small. He and his associates have developed a series of DVD's with actors in different social interactions. The children with autism can replay these DVD's and learn the "rules" for how to act in certain situations.
I recall reading somewhere that this is what Temple Grandin learned to do. If someone came into her office she had memorized the line, "Would you like a cup of coffee?" She could not understand why she should do this, but had memorized her line in the play of life. Perhaps as Shakespeare wrote, "All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts, Perhaps for the child with autism this is more literal than poetic.

No comments: