That language barrier is real

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I never really thought of my Sir. E has having a “language barrier”. He was a late talker for sure, and he has had his fair share of problems with understanding certain types of language, but I always thought when I spoke with him, he could understand me. Lately though, that has NOT been the case.

I recently sat down with our behaviour consultant to update his programming, and I learned a lot about where he is developmentally and why we have been struggling so much with him. See my previous post, That last first day set him up for failure and note the comment early in the post referring to hormones! Oh, man he is a basket case! It’s like having a sixteen year old girl, trapped in an eleven year old boys body! I’m sure I’ve said this before, because we are going on a full year of drama, drama, drama. Anyway, we talked about how ASD kids change over time, and how Sir. E is getting to that age where he wants to establish himself in the world and in our household. He essentially is trying to turn into a big kid while he is still a little kid. Stupid tween stage. Well, this is all a horrific nightmare a little easier to figure out when your dealing with a typical child, but when your dealing with someone who has ASD, they don’t understand why they are required to wear pants while establishing their place in a household.

I’m not even kidding, we had a ridiculous discussion about wearing pants just 3 weeks ago. It went on for 2 hours and neither myself or Dirty Gentleman could figure how to help Sir. E to understand why it’s not appropriate to walk around in your tight, revealing underwear while playing with your sisters upstairs. Probably doesn’t seem like a big deal right? But trust me, when you one day see your eleven year old son, playing on the floor with your four year old daughter, and all you can see is the outline of his man bits and oodles of skin, you too will ask him to wear pants.

Back to the behaviour consultant. She talked a lot about hormones and how programming needs to change as kids reach certain stages in life. From the 2-9 year old stage your worried about them just surviving basically. Programming is all, how to hold utensils/pencils, how to jump with one foot, how to share, how to ask for things, how to handle objections, why we follow the rules, Sir. E finished one a few months ago called, “Manners, the unspoken words” that one cracked me up. But now, he is questioning WHY he has to do any of these things. Why does society have rules? Why does he need to follow them? So the BC gave me a book, an AMAZING BOOK! If you are familiar with the “5 point scale” and like it, you will LOVE this book. We use the 5 point scale quite a bit. It’s easy to understand and even easier to remember. Basically it’s a way of evaluating, either your own emotions, someone else’s emotions or a situation. The book I first read to learn about the 5 point scale is this one —> The Incredible 5-Point Scale: Assisting Students in Understanding Social Interactions and Controlling Their Emotional Responses. It’s a great book for adults wanting to learn the language and common uses for this awesome resource. Just to give you an idea of what it’s about, I’ll give you a quick example of the most common way to use the scale.

Lets say we are using it to evaluate emotions, something hard for all younger kids and difficult for atypical kids at most ages. A 1 is when your feeling calm and relaxed, nothing is bothering you. A 2 is when you feel a little irritated or anxious but you can still focus. At a 3, your feeling very anxious, irritated or angry, you can no longer focus on what your doing – So at a 3, we would teach Sir. E to implement his emergency plan, the idea is not to get to a 4 or 5. At 3 he would use some of his self regulation techniques (as a younger child his favourite was clenching his but cheeks together :)), ask an adult for help or go to a sensory room. A 4 is where you are feeling very angry and are no longer in control, and a 5 is where you lose control.

But wait there’s more…..

What makes this scale so easy to use is that it can be customized to your child. Lots of non-verbal children use it because you don’t need words for it to work, it can just be pictures in squares with a number assigned. Now back to the book the behaviour consultant gave to me. It’s called “A 5 is against the law”. Ummmm yes please! Here is the amazon link if your interested —> A 5 Is Against the Law!: Social Boundaries: Straight Up! I read it cover to cover in under an hour. It’s short and super simple to understand because it’s actually written for someone with ASD to read it themselves. It’s from the same company who published The incredible 5 point scale, so since we’ve already used that this is a seamless transition for us. What’s so great about this book is that it uses simple language so it really helped me to understand HOW I need to talk to Sir. E. I can’t even begin to explain to you how frustrating and upsetting it is to not know how to communicate with your ELEVEN year old! He just doesn’t get it. But reading this, really helped me to learn some of the words and strings of words I could use that he could understand. It also simplified how maybe something that was a 2 behaviour wise, used to be acceptable at the age of five, but now that your eleven it’s a 4 or a 5. Like for example, when Sir. E was five he was allowed to wander around the house in his underwear and no one was bothered by it, just like right now Little miss psychopath is four and so sometimes she wanders around with no pants on. Sir. E though, didn’t understand why now that he’s eleven, it’s not ok to do that. What changed, he wondered? Why can Little miss psychopath do it and not get in trouble? This book was a huge help for me to be able to explain, using that 5 point scale, WHY something that used to be a 2 is now a 5.

On a side note, I really hope I’m making sense because now that I’m typing this it sounds like a lot of numbers so if you have questions feel free to ask me!

So, basically this book takes the 5 point scale and applies it to social situations, for tweens, teens and young adults on the spectrum. It’s to help people who are black and white thinkers navigate that grey area of social interactions, such as why we have to wear pants ;). A total grey area, right?

One day he’ll find this blog and hate me until I let him know it helped pay for that new bmx he wanted….na he’ll probably still hold it against me forever.

At the end of the book it gives this awesome example of a flow chart and how to create one for somebody who is really struggling with social interaction. I thought it was especially great for people on the spectrum looking to date. But even if you don’t have a child on the spectrum, the 5 point scale is a great resource to teach kids about their emotions and appropriate responses to things. The last thing I’m going to say about this book, it gave a great reason for WHY we have to follow social rules, because with this many people living together in a society, if we didn’t follow the social laws there would be chaos. If I don’t end this post here I’m afraid I will go on and on and on about this because I seriously am in love with it right now. Mostly because it has been such an immense help in just understanding how much of a deficit Sir. E has as far as understanding language and social interaction. It really helps me to have more patience with him.

T.. xoxo






8 thoughts on “That language barrier is real

  1. Love the idea of this. It gives kiddos with limited communication a voice. I love this. We have a kiddo when we adopted he was non verbal. This would have been helpful. He is verbal now but getting there was frustrating for him sometimes

    1. Thanks! He does talk quite a bit, it’s just that one piece missing in understanding actual language and getting out proper words, especially when overwhelmed. I hope this will be another tool in his box. Thank you for reading 🙂

  2. My nephew has a pretty significant speech delay and some other things going on. It would be so helpful to give him a simple and clear way to express his feelings without having to use words. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Ok, my sister’s name is Reichel, pronounced the same as yours, and at first glance of your comment I thought she was being funny commenting about her nephew, on a post ABOUT her nephew, haha. Side rant. This would be perfect for a speech delay, as well as problems with language. I do know parents who even made up their own 5 point scales, and had their kids who had speech problems point to the number or show the number with fingers when they were to frustrated to try. It can be a great tool for some and might not work for others, ahhh parenting. Thanks for reading!

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