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Teaching Imitation

(10 Posts)
cyberseraphim Tue 19-Aug-08 11:29:06

DS1 (ASD) can only imitate in a very delayed way. If I water the plants in the garden, he might 'copy' the action later on in his own time but spontaneous copying is non existent and this is becoming a barrier to teaching him (a very common problem I know). Are there games to help with teaching imitation? Or is it just a case of trying over and over again until he 'gets' it

silverfrog Tue 19-Aug-08 11:46:56

we have started trying to address this with dd1.

We do lots of different things to try to get her to imitate. Motor imitation is her worst problem (after speech delay). She is, surprisingly, very good at verbal imitation, and so we mix a lot of that in to keep her happy.

we have:

used hand over hand for immediate results - touch head/shoulders/feet/tummy etc. lots of praise (dd1's biggest reinforcer) even when we have helped (made) her do it. then try ahgain, and lots of praise if she even twitches in the right direction. repeat endlessly.

I have also copied wht dd1 was doing (eg tapping on a table). Waited until she acknowledged I had joined in, then stopped. She stopped too a surprising amount of times. Then I would start up, and she started up again, etc. Lots of reinforcement again.

And, have you tried with something your ds is interested in? Dd1 loves stacking, and so at times, I would sit with the stacker and stack up shapes. Dd1 sometimes came across to join in (I had not asked her over/told her to come and play etc - she was purely watching and then copying my actions)

Technically, I think, when working on imitation, you should (if verbally prompting) accompany with "do this". this does not work for dd1 at this point. She works much better if we name the action - she will then imitate after a few attempts, and then we can fade the verbal prompt completely.

Imitation does not have to be big - would your ds copy you rubbing on a chair arm, for eg, or banging a drum?

jimjamshaslefttheyurt Tue 19-Aug-08 12:22:20

We did something similar to silverfrog.

Using ABA worked in the end.

Say: 'do this'
then clap
If no response hand over hand prompt
then reinforce

Over and over again. DS1 learned the appropriate response at the table quite quickly, but he didn't understand about imitation and didn't start doing it spontaneously until he was 7.

Make sure that you separate teaching imitation from teaching actions. So for example if you say 'do this' then clap make sure you don't then clap. You can teach clapping in response to 'clap' separately.

cyberseraphim Tue 19-Aug-08 12:28:45

I like the clapping idea - I think it's simple enough for him but I am printing out Silverfrog's ideas and I will work out a program for what to do regularly. He's doing not badly in other areas ( by ASD standards) but no one else is going to see what he can do if he won't follow directions within a reasonable time or imitate others more spontaneously.

anonandlikeit Tue 19-Aug-08 12:30:54

Not sure if this is similar or the opposite but ds2 will copy everything EXACTLY, both verbal & motor, but how does this move on to independent thinking?
He will follow ds2 around the garden like a shadow mimicking every movement & word but take away ds1 & he is lost, completely. He would stand in the garden & simply not know which way to go next. Normally one of us will go out & ask him if he wants to come in, he doesn't answer as he can't make a choice but he will follow me back in doors - sit on his corner of the sofa & await his next instruction.

How do you move this mimicking on to allow him to use these skills independently?

Sorry for the hijack cyber

cyberseraphim Tue 19-Aug-08 12:45:54

That's interesting isn't it? - Anon. My DS tends towards over compliance too - Once he learns a rule, he sticks to it rigidly rather than thinking independently.

cyberseraphim Tue 19-Aug-08 12:51:27

If you gave DS2 the choice of coming in or staying - would DS1 copy DS2's choice or would he be able to copy the 'choosing' ? I think it's very good that he does copy so much. My brother learned to relate to others a little bit more by copying by how others relate. I know someone who has an autistic son who has started trying to ask friends home. He doesn't really want them to come but he knows this is what others do and wants to copy.

anonandlikeit Tue 19-Aug-08 12:57:52

Yes my ds is fantastic at following direction, in many ways thats good, but take away direction & he can't cope at all & he won't retain or remember direction for the future.

Although strangely he is very Routine & has OCD that involves touching certain things etc, i guess he is trying to build some order in to his confusing world.

He also cannot make a choice at all, he finds it so frustrating, even the choice between ham or cheese or Yes or No he finds hard. So I have to guess what eh want & normally get it wrong.

I would love him to be able to make some decisions for himself.

silverfrog Tue 19-Aug-08 13:19:53

how old is your ds2, anon?

dd1 was very similar when she was a bit younger (she's just turned 4).

She could not make a choice at all, and everything she did was via direction or direct prompting. she has got a bit better recently, though, and asks for what she wants (ie makes choices on her own terms).

If confronted with a choice, eg apple or banana, then she will just repeat the question. She just doesn't get blatant choice. It confuses her.

anonandlikeit Tue 19-Aug-08 13:30:33

he's 5 silverfrog, I think he understand the question but he can't communicate his needs, although his vocabulary is good.
All questions prompt the same response, hands over face & collapse on the floor.

It seems like he goes in to a panic & he's not able to respond to a question.

He is a bit of a mystery really.

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