My son with autism quotes TV dialogue, what do I do?

For a while, I wrote an “Ask Chantal” column for The Autism File magazine

  So many people enjoyed reading the column that I have taken the liberty of reproducing some of the more popular letters I received and the corresponding advice I gave

If it doesn’t help you, maybe you know someone it can help

Dear Chantal,

My son mumbles and talks to himself all the time

He seems to go into his own world, I cannot get him out

He seems to be quoting parts of films or things he sees on the computer/game boy

Do you have any suggestions how I can direct the speech to a conversation with me? He obviously is verbal but I can’t interact with him


Dear Perplexed,

You don’t mention how old your son is, but the fact that he is quoting dialogue from films or video games is a good sign in terms of his verbal abilities

He may be repeating them because he likes the sound, or he is understanding those words and phrases form listening to them over and over

  Pay attention to whether or not he is repeating bits of dialogue at appropriate times, which would show that he is understanding the meaning or intent

For example, my son used to repeat certain lines form Sesame Street that had to do with eating  cookies when that is what he wanted to eat

When he slips on the stairs, he says “Whoops! Sorry!” in the same voice  he has heard in a favorite video

This is a good sign

  I would suggest you  get him interested in communicating with you by getting to know the movies and games he is quoting from,  and then dialogue and connect with him by repeating them as well

He will be more interested in you if you take an interest in what he is into

You can repeat the bits of dialogue at appropriate moments

Then, use the characters from the movies and write social stories about what they would do in certain real life situations, getting him to help more and more, gradually getting him into talking about the here and now and not so much the pretend world

  Using his interest to connect with him and to teach him how to connect with others is an important first step


How the Rapid Prompting Method Gave Me A Voice

My son, Jeremy Sicile-Kira, wrote the article below about the Rapid Prompting Method (RPM) which appeared in the January 2010 issue of The Autism File. If you watch the HBO movie on April 2, A Mother’s Courage: Talking Back to Autism, you will see  Soma Mukhopadhyay teaching a child using RPM.



How the Rapid Prompting Method Gave Me A Voice

Having Autism is hard enough, especially when it comes to communication for people who are non-verbal like myself. The Rapid Prompting Method (RPM) is not only a learning method but a door to open-ended communication for different people with autism. It is my good fortune to have been taught by Soma  Mukhopadhyay, who pioneered  RPM.

Soma, originally from India,  has a son with autism named Tito, who is the mighty inspiration  behind RPM.  Soma needed to create a method that would help him not only  to learn, but to communicate as well. Soma was frustrated with the schools in India, where they lived, because they wouldn’t accept Tito as a student. Just like they told my parents in France, where I was born, they told Soma that Tito was mentally retarded. I was “diagnosed” with mental retardation too, yet here we are both using RPM to discuss our similar past experience.

RPM is a method that  can be used with different people as it is adapted to the needs of each individual. Some are auditory learners, some are visual learners and the RPM teacher uses the learning channel that is best for that person.  RPM uses a “teach and ask” paradigm for eliciting responses through intensive verbal, visual and or tactile prompts.  RPM starts with the idea that all students are capable of learning. Despite behaviors, the academic focus of every RPM lesson is designed to activate the reasoning part of the brain so the students becomes distracted and engaged in the learning. The prompting competes with student’s self-stimulatory behavior. Continue reading »