There will be moments when your child with autism will surprise you with exceptionally appropriate behavior or conversation. When those moments come close together in consistent clumps, you may be looking at a burst! Read the following excerpt from the latest episode of the thrilling Cox soap opera, "The Young and the Clueless". In this episode, entitled "The Burst", our hero, Jojo, is desperately trying to woo the object of his affection (that's me) with smooth talk and an invitation to dessert......cue wistful piano theme music.....
Galileo: "Hi, Mommy."
Me: "Hi Jo!"
Galileo: "What's your name?"
Me (chuckling): "My name is Nicole! What is your name?"
Galileo: "I'm Josiah Cox!"
Me (stifling peals of laughter): "How are you doing?"
Galileo (obviously pleased with himself): "I'm fine!"
~awkward silence between lovers~
Galileo: "Mommy, I want juice pop, please."
Me: "There are no more, Baby."
~his pause of disbelief~
Galileo: "Are you sure?"
~my pause of disbelief~
Me (turning red as I try to hold back the happy dance!): "Yes, I'm sure! How about popcorn? (Desperately trying to keep this conversation going!)"
Galileo (after careful consideration): "Yes."
What???!!!! THAT WAS NEW!!!!
Bursts are important. Why? Well, first of all, it is such a nice change when you can see that clearly things are connecting for this kid! Even if they are small connections they give you hope and are causes for great celebration. My advice is to then reinforce those moments as much as possible. Don't get so blown away that you don't try to expand on the moment! Generalize it to everything possible. Try to set up the circumstances for the conversation or behavior in several different settings from then on. The goal is to turn a moment of clarity into a concept of understanding!
Bursts are also a cue to turn up the intensity on the teaching!! There is cognitive growth happening and you don't want to let that window close on you without shoving as much information as possible through it!! Consult with your Supervising Therapist and develop strategies to expand on the current programs you are running or introduce new ones! This is your time so take it. We want to keep the plateaus of learning to a minimum and keep the upward progression, no matter how slow, at a steady pace!
The moral of the story is this: Don't Give Up!! No conversation or activity is in vain. You never know what is processing up in that miraculous gray matter between their ears....or when it will kick in!