Showing posts with label Matryoshka. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Matryoshka. Show all posts

Thursday 13 February 2014

The Matryoshka in Autism - Revealing the Child Within

Matryoshka dolls are Russian stacking dolls, often mistakenly called Babushka dolls
Picture Source: Wikipedia

This post coincides with the first week of Putin’s Winter Olympics in Sochi.  All is going well so far and Russia has shown it can put on quite a spectacle.  Russia has no shortage of clever scientists, but rarely does their research make it into English language journals.  No doubt, much gets lost to the non-Russian speaking world.
Russia is famous for its Matryoshka dolls.  Remove the outer layer and see what is underneath.

Treating your child’s autism can also be like un-stacking your Matryoshka doll  for the first time.  You may be surprised what lies underneath. 

моя матрешка (My Matryoshka)

This week for me was another surprising one.
Monty, aged 10 with ASD, has an Assistant with him in the mornings at school.  “Has Monty ever been to Disneyland?” she asked me.  It turns out one of his classmates had been telling his friends about a family holiday to Disneyland Paris.  Six years ago we took Monty to Disneyland Paris.  All I remember was pushing him around the theme park in a pushchair, while his elder brother enjoyed the rides.  In the very many gift shops, Monty enjoyed reorganizing the stock into nice neat rows; but that was about it.  After that experience, we limited ourselves to Legoland; the best one is the original in Billund, Denmark, which is great for all kids.  I doubt Disneyland was a memorable experience.

So it was a great surprise to hear that Monty had joined the conversation at school and said that he too had been to Disneyland. Until very recently, he had never been able to join in any, unprompted, natural conversation.  Perhaps this was just his imagination, but when I asked him later who he had been to Disneyland with, he gave the right answer and I had structured the question to make the easy response the wrong answer. 
We also now have a lot of speech and much is directed at humour.  Monty is taking an observation and reinventing it, to make it more memorable and amusing.  So, Martin breaking his tooth at school playing football, when he collided into another boy, with the teacher Mr Keith looking on, transitioned through:-

Martin hit his teeth   (what happened?)
Martin was playing football with Mr Keith  (really, and then what?)
Martin was playing football with Mr Keith and broke his teeth
And finally
“Mr Keith broke Martin’s teeth”, which was repeated many times.

By which time he was in fits of laughter.  As long as we don’t tell Martin’s mother, all will be OK.
Yesterday, Monty informed me of the news about his 8 year old classmate:  
“Alexia has got married”   (Martin has been busy) 
Is this NT behaviour? No, possibly not, but it is unlike any autistic behaviour I have seen to date.

Today, a little girl at school stopped me and said “Monty talks funny; and I don’t know why”. 

Finally, the Head Teacher came up to me and says she keeps meaning to write us a note, to tell us how great Monty is doing this year, so happy and joyful.  Now he greets everyone spontaneously and no longer with any prompting.
So it looks like the outer shell of the Matryoshka has been consigned to history.    Long live the Polypill, and not to forget 12,000 hours of 1:1 therapy.

What lies deeper inside remains to be seen.