Little Star very seldom wants me to read to her. Most of the time, when it comes to books, she prefers to be exclusive, she prefers to ism. Isms, in the Son-Rise language, are exclusive, repetitive behaviors a child indulges in, to the total exclusion of everyone else. It is like she is having a party, where she is the only allowed guest. These behaviors can sometimes seem unusual to people unfamiliar with autism, such as rocking, or hand flapping. With Little Star, her isms are less obvious but no less exclusive. When she walks her dolls across the room, over and over again. When she is playing on her keyboard. Or, when she is flipping books, one of her favourite isms. I think flipping books is a favourite ism of many children on the autism spectrum 🙂
These behaviours can sometimes seem unusual to people unfamiliar with autism, such as rocking, or hand flapping. With Little Star, her isms are less obvious but no less exclusive. When she walks her dolls across the room, over and over again. When she is playing on her keyboard. Or, when she is flipping books, one of her favourite isms. I think flipping books is a favourite ism of many children on the autism spectrum 🙂
But what if it turns out an ism isn’t an ism after all? What if it is actually an invitation to for you, the adult, to join the child? But you just did not realise it before?
That is the beauty of joining. We join the child, to bond and connect. To show her that we accept her isms, her repetitive behaviours. And not only do we accept it, but we want to learn about it, we want to enjoy it as much as she does. We want to build rapport and understanding in what Little Star is doing. But beyond that, joining also gives us a wonderful opportunity to observe our child. To work out and ponder, why is she doing this? Not to find something wrong in it, but something right. And when you find the reason for the ism, I tell you, your child will be delighted too! She is thinking, FINALLY this dense adult gets me 🙂
Reading: what happened
So Little Star is flipping a small ABC book. First I join her. Then, she seems to pause over certain pages, and she peeks at me a little. I respond by pointing out and naming stuff in the book (I should have celebrated the peek, but honestly, I forgot! Her eye contact is so good now, I often forget to celebrate it :p).
Initially, I did the alphabets, Little Star was not interested. I followed her lead and we went back to joining. Then later, I tried pointing out and naming the pictures in the book (whenever she paused in flipping pages). S waited for me to finish naming the item before flipping to a next page, indicating she was interested! I ooh’d and aah’d over this.
We did this a few times, naming items on the pages, then I stopped to see if she wanted me to continue. S looked at me after flipping a page, so I named that item. And again, and again.
Then, she began tapping on the pages. FYI, flipping a page, then tapping it with her hands, is an ism of S. But the difference is now, she flipped, tapped, and looked at me! This means Little Star wants me to name the item she is tapping 😀 So I do so joyfully 😀 because now she has shown me, her ism isn’t actually an ism, it is a request for me to read that page for her! And when I stop or move away, she pulls me back to the bed and the book to keep reading to her. YAY! Sorry Little Star, Mommy did not know before. But now I do. Thank you for showing me ❤ and giving us this wonderful chance to read together.
Note: Book picture is not the actual book, but something similar.