Scripting is a difficult thing to explain to someone who has no experience with it, but I’m going to try to explain what it means in our life. Keep in mind that I’m writing this on a Monday following what was for the most part a good and happy weekend. This, like all my posts, is only one part of our overall life experience.
Scripting (usually) is when you repeat over and over lines that you have heard on TV or from another person; exactly word for word and in the same accent and intonation as you heard it. It’s quite common in people with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). Sometimes, the person who is scripting, expects other people to go along with their script too; Giving the same response every time to whatever they say to you.
I don’t think scripting in and of itself is necessarily bad and while there are different opinions on why it’s done, I am in the camp that thinks it’s a comforting mechanism. I have read up a lot on it and some older autistic people say it helped them to communicate when they didn’t have their own words to apply to a situation so they used someone elses. They say it’s not something that should be discouraged. There are experts who say these repetitive behaviors (stims) help the child regulate what is for them, a chaotic world.
All that may be true but what else is true is that I can’t do this anymore.
I feel like a prisoner to Jay’s scripts. They are stressful and I feel like Jay’s scripting puppet. Saying what he wants, when he wants and how he wants, regardless of what I am doing at the time or even if I’m in the middle of my own sentence.
Jay doesn’t repeat lines from TV. He has made up his own scripts for us to follow. His scripting takes the form of repeating the names of items he sees and then expecting whoever is with him to repeat the word after him. Sometimes we need to say it 5 or 6 times before he is satisfied that we have said it correctly. If we take too long to say his word, he will cry and throw a tantrum. This is particularly difficult when we are in the car. He thinks we have taken too long to repeat the word if we don’t say it to his satisfaction before we drive past and he can no longer see it. Whatever IT is.
It started off with just animals. And OH MY GOD, you’d be surprised how many animals you can see in peoples homes or on billboards or on trucks as you’re driving. I particularly hate the Geico gecko.
Now though, his scripting has expanded to include, trains, airplanes and helicopters, fruits and vegetables, tires that are not attached to cars, gas stations, tractors, burgers, flowers and bodies of water or pictures of a beach scene and even babies, keys and mail boxes. At any given point, a new thing could be added to the list, but nothing has ever fallen off the list. The list just keeps growing and it’s out of control now. We can’t drive 2 minutes without him yelling at us to repeat some word.
I am so happy that Jay has developed such a wide vocabulary … This is what I dreamed of and this is what we/he worked hard for. His increased understanding and vocabulary have made our lives easier in countless ways. What I am not happy about is that we are being held captive by his scripting. He is controlling us in a way. It has taken over our lives and serves no functional purpose.
We have tried using his single word repeating scripts to springboard into longer sentences. For eg. If he saw an elephant and then said the word “elephant“, I would say “I see the gray elephant.” That is not the script and he did not like it at all. That lead to tantrums.
We have decided to make a break for it and stop OUR part of the scripting. If Jay wants to see things and say the words, that’s fine, but we will no longer repeat the words for/to him.
It’s not going to be easy and there were some rough patches over the weekend but we got through them. When he tries to get us to script now, I will say “No Jay. I am not saying that word.” He will keep trying for a while and he may or may not make some noise in an effort to change our minds but I believe that he understands what we are saying and that we are no longer willing to participate in those scripts. He has gotten creative in trying to get us to script with him. Some of the things he has tried have been hilarious and oh so clever. But we are making a conscious effort not to fall into his traps.
There has already been some slowing of the requests for us to script with him but it’s going to take us a while to totally get out of it. It’s not easy on him or us. It pains me to see him so distressed and to know that all I have to do to make him relax is to say one little word, but I need to stay strong with this one. Just like when he was a baby and he would cry in his crib at night to get picked up and taken into our bed. We let him cry it out for a few nights and we haven’t had any bed time/sleeping issues since. I’m hoping this will work the same way.