One of the early tricks we learned when our son was first taking speech therapy years ago was the need to practice conversation. I had not thought of it much before learning about Autism, but it's a common challenge for these kiddos. While he was little he was not responsive to many of my questions, but I just thought he was shy. Honestly, I didn't know why he was so quiet. I didn't know why he didn't respond when I said his name or why eye contact was always a challenge. He was my first, I had no idea until a Speech Therapist came along that these were concerns.

We know a lot more now. One little game that's easy is conversation ball (or catch). The rule is someone starts a topic and the person that gets the ball next has to ask a question or make a comment ON TOPIC.

Isn't it fascinating that this isn't automatic for some unique minds? I often have to remind myself there are things I take for granted like conversation skills that just developed naturally while it takes extra time and strategy for others to learn. This is what it looks like:

Me: Oh, I LOVE Christmas! It's such a fun holiday!

Q: What is your favorite thing about Christmas?
Comment: I like Christmas, too.

With someone else's topic of choice (if it's not video games) this is where we are. And it's a beautiful thing! What used to be silence or "okay" after attempted converation is starting to look like a really short and adorable game of verbal ping pong! There also used to be off-topic answers, so we would say or hold up a cheeseburger card and say WHOPPER! as a silly way to remind someone they were off topic.

Next week we will be working on changing the topic gracefully.