Message from the Executive Director

Perspectivei47j "A Child Who Speaks Seemingly Irrelevant Words"

@I get asked a lot of questions about the use of words during developmental consultations. Today, wefre talking about the understanding and support of a child who only speaks words that seem irrelevant to the situation, such as imitations of phrases from TV programs or picture books.

@Boy K (Aged 4) goes to kindergarten. His mother is worried about him not fitting into a group, having hyperactive tendencies, and having too highly-focused interests. In addition, she worries about the way he speaks.

@We found out the following things from the mother about Kfs early developmental history, consultation history, and behaviors at home. To begin with, he showed a strong interest in things, and as for motor function, he was active from an early age and started to walk just before the age of 1. However, his weakness for emotional attachment was reflected in his dependence on people and stranger anxiety, and it seems that the scope of his self-conduct suddenly expanded before he had gained enough experience of emotional communication or interactions involving objects with the adults close to him. Hence, he was increasingly warned, scolded, and stopped, because he didnft acknowledge danger, caused people trouble, etc. We guessed he got most of his information from his favorite TV shows, animation and picture books because he was not able to share fun experiences with adults. As a result, he probably developed his own style of expression which was difficult for the people around him to understand

@At first, he was sensitive to the approach of adults and refused instantly when he felt pressure in being asked; gWhat is this?h, or being suggested gLetfs do this!h, etc.

@Then, his mother and staff paid attention to his interests, wishes, worries, and tried to share his interests and experiences from his view point instead of pressuring behavior modification from the outside. For example, we directed our interest to a scene, phrase, or character of his favorite TV show or picture book and approached him with comments about that while gaging his reaction from his eyes and behavior, so that we could gain his acceptance. When he seemed hesitant or unwilling, we tried to confirm by asking if itfs not what he wanted, and if so, we apologized and listened to his wishes, asking gWhat would you like to do then?h. And when he felt that things didnft work out as intended and struggled, saying gHelp me!h or calling out a characterfs name, we comforted him with patience, saying gYou must be frustrated.h and gItfs troublesome, isnft it?h while providing support.

@With the accumulation of this type of interaction, his behavior and expression of words have changed. His demands have become clearer, and his interactions have grown in frequency: Looking at his motherfs face Expecting her to call out to him Pleasure upon hearing this Copying an adultfs words voluntarily Increase in demands (gMother!h, gPlease do X.h, etc.) Wanting to be observed (gI did it!h, gLook!h) Expressing his intention and feelings (hNo.h, gIfm scared.h) We now hardly hear his previous unnatural expressions and phrases.

@This case teaches us that there was a reason why he would speak (so-called) irrelevant words, and that words cannot be imposed through training to glearn the right expressionsh but are developed in a comfortable environment with the people close to him. Sensitive interactions and consideration from the individualfs position are required.

@When K became a young man, his mother looked back at his childhood and spoke with deep emotion that she had considered his use of irrelevant words a characteristic of autism that would never change but later realized that words develop with changes in the quality of interaction. We would like to think outside of the childfs immediate behavior and expressions, consider the thinking behind it, and build a relationship of resonance.

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