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Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Psychologist
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 5334
Experience:  Dr.Mark is a psychologist in private practice who works with parents and children in resolving family issues.
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My teenage grandson who has mild autism and can speak well

Customer Question

My teenage grandson who has mild autism and can speak well will never answer me or his parents when we ask him how a certain activity or event went which he attended out of the home. He usually says 'good' but refuses to say anymore - it's like he is stuck in some way and cannot get the words out . We know he has anxiety and has been attending therapy for this recently.

Thank you

Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 5 years ago.

Hi! I believe I can be of help with this issue.

I can imagine how frustrating this situation must be for you. You are clearly a loving and caring grandparent and that's so important and wonderful. So the first rule is don't give up and don't become too frustrated. Remember that he will pick up on your frustration and it will make him even more frustrated than he already is. Be of good cheer and end every conversation you can on a happy note even if it was not that fulfilling for you and was brief.

The first rule with autism spectrum where there is no severe verbal impairment (like with Asperger's Syndrome) is to stay concrete. Don't ask questions that are too open ended right away. So don't ask, was the activity fun? That can be a minefield for his brain. Ask instead very concrete questions: was the activity outside or inside? You'll see that sometimes even asking: was the activity in a big room? Or, were a lot of people there? can be too open ended for some, maybe him. His brain might be stuck on what is a big room nd what is a small room?

So get to know his level of concreteness. Don't assume just because it's concrete to you and me that it's concrete to him. Learn his level. So if big/small, lot of people/a few people is too open ended for him, after waiting a minute and seeing that he got stuck, just ask right away a different question: what color was the room the activity was in? I do this all the time in session. It's very important to help him get out of being stuck by giving him a second chance with another question.

Then, avoid feeling words until you know what he can handle. So, no: did you like the activity? That's often too hard. Or, Was it fun? Yes, these are feeling words even though we're all so used to them. Stick with thinking words: Do you think it was a good activity? He may get stuck on "good" so learn that one too. Did you learn something when you were at the activity? A new word maybe?

Think, learn, do, those are concrete words. Feelings are tough.

And finally, help him out. If he's stuck, try to say it for him. But don't overdo it. If you ask did you learn something new at the activity? He may get stuck because it's too open ended what something new actually is. So you might jump in with, a new thing that you might have learned at this type of activity is how to grill chicken and meat. Grilling chicken is a good thing to know. Did you learn about grilling chicken?

Filling in the conversation for him is an important cuing technique. But the number one technique is still the one I said before of just asking another question when you see he's stuck so he can move on: did you learn a new song? Did something make you laugh at the activity?

Okay, I wish you the very best!

Please remember to click the green accept button because: even though you have made a deposit, I do not get paid for my time unless you press ACCEPT. You are not charged anything more than the deposit you already made by pressing ACCEPT. Feel free to continue the discussion even after pressing ACCEPT as my goal is to get you the best answer possible. Bonuses are always appreciated! If I can be of further help with any issue now or in the future, just put "for Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, XXXXX XXXXX

Dr. Mark and other Parenting Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
The response is quite good but I thought I was paying $40.00. For this amount I would have expected a more thorough answer. However, I will accept this if you cannot help me further.

Thank you

Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 5 years ago.
Hi. I will be very glad to be more thorough. But I will need some guidelines from you on what direction you want me to take. Meaning, to be more thorough in which area? Would you like recommendations on books, for example?

Dr. Mark
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I did accept to pay $40.00 but I did NOT expect to pay another $90.00 which has been withdrawn from my account. I consider this to be a scam and I would like my $90.00 back.

Thank you
Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 5 years ago.
Anna, I am a psychologist and am not privy to the workings of the staff. But I do know from the experience that other questioners have reported to me that customer service is very helpful. I'll send this to them through my route, but I recommend you also contact customer service from your computer. I am so sorry that this has happened.

All the best, Dr. Mark