About this blog.

My son was diagnosed with PDD-NOS at 24 months. I created this blog to bring meaning to the often-confusing label. Sometimes I have answers. Other times, just more questions.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Me to Brad's SLP: He's Just Not That Into You

Or your dolls.

Allow me to explain.

I had Brad evaluated last week for private speech therapy. She raised the usual litany of concerns. Expressive language delay. Receptive language delay. No surprise there. What surprised me was her observation that his play is rigid and rote, and he has no imagination.

Oh really? I see him play with his brother all the time, and personally, I see mostly natural, unscripted play, with a lot of laughter. Brad has a sense of humor, albeit an immature one. Beyond that, I see a budding imagination, particularly when we use pretend food or stuffed animals.

The basis for the SLP's observation: it's the dolls.

The SLP did what every examiner does - she reverted to her preconceived notion of what inspires imagination in a normal kid. But Brad does not have an emotional connection to dolls or plastic representations of people. Why would he? In the world according to Brad, babies poop, cry, grab his stuff and don't share. He's around a baby - a sibling of one of Jeremy's friends - a few times per week. When he sees the baby, Brad goes right into bunker mode, protecting his booty of toys from the perceived threat because that's all that a baby is to Brad at this age.

So he lacks the emotional connection but he knows from past experience what to do with dolls. He puts them to sleep and says "shhhhh." He has memorized the play script. And being the pleaser he is, he happily goes through the script on request.

Fine, maybe I'm rationalizing. But the way I see it, he's acting in a rigid manner because we've reduced freeplay to an instructer-led service delivery model. Call me crazy but maybe play isn't always best when it's administered by a trained professional.

Not to worry though. I'm not shunning speech therapy. Brad is starting during the second week of July, two fifty minute sessions per week, covered by insurance at least for now. I plan to have a little heart to heart with the SLP before she starts however.


Nyx said...

I am outraged on your behalf. First of all, where does she get off telling you your son has no imagination based on a ... what? 50 minute session? Secondly, if he had shown imagination I'm sure she would have then said that he "played with toys in unusual ways." Once they have made up their minds that there is something wrong with a child, they just look for crap to say, don't they? Anyway, how many things can you do with a doll? What did she expect him to do, nurse it? that said, nobody is perfect. Even my wonderful new Floortime slp with whom I am personally in love annoyed me with her apparent inability to separate eye contact from communication. Why does everyone seem to discount the possibility that my son could be communicating without making eye contact? Oh sorry, I didn't mean to make this about me again. ahem. Agreed that most of these adults have too much of an agenda to even begin to know how to really play, especially with a child as interesting as one of ours. I guess they just don't have any imagination.

rainbowmummy said...

It's the familiar play that gets me. I am to tired to go into it just now, lol, I tried to write and it didn't make sense, even to me, but Ill comment anyway. Just for thrills, y'know ;)

Laura said...

Nyx LOL, seriously I don't know what they expect with the doll. I have a typical son who used to take joy in throwing the doll. Jeremy was 22 months when we had Brad so I tried to acclimate him to the idea before Brad came. Didn't go over well!

rainbowmummy, I think we actually had this convo before and I totally know what you mean about "novel this" versus "routine that." what EVAH

Anonymous said...

Oh, you had me cracking up at the beginning. I love the title.

I SO get you on this. "Experts" always like to say Rhema has no (or very little) pretend play skills. I KNOW in fact that she does. She just does not happen to be motivated by the toys they use to evaluate her.

Shari said...

As long as he's having fun, it should be play. I do try to encourage pretend play for my little buy, but he much prefers doing pretend yard work and walking his stuffed dogs to playing with our lone doll. But chase him, let him jump on the bed, or kick all over the swimming pool and he's really playing, and loving it.

Stimey said...

I love that he deals with the threat of toy stealing by putting the baby dolls to bed. I find that extremely creative and some excellent problem solving!

Kris said...

What is it about therapists and dolls??!! The first professional I took Alec to was a developmental pediatrician who made a huge deal out of the fact that he did not serve a pretend meal to a doll. He did make the pretend meal, pretended there was a fire in the play kitchen (which I definitely thought showed imagination) and served the meal to me. He had no interest in serving it to the doll and for that was found to "not weave a storyline". She also made a huge deal out of the fact that he did not make some pretend pirates have a conversation with each other even though he had a battle with them. She made a dx of ASD based on this and the fact that he could not copy some abstract shapes.
That's why I took him for a 2nd and 3rd opinion. Not because I didn't believe the ASD dx, but because I was appalled at how she made the diagnosis.
My NT daughter and NT son had/have no interest in dolls. My oldest ADHD son is the only one of my 4 who played with dolls/stuffed animals. It means nothing in and of itself!

Laura said...

Shari, rhemashope, Kris - I know, right? Who doens't have the experience of feeling that our children are underestimated and misunderstood. If there's a universal trait among autism moms, that might be it.

Stimey, LOL if he had handcuffs, he may have used them to harness the baby to the bed.