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imitation in ASD (mrsturnip?)

(13 Posts)
sadminster Mon 31-Aug-09 20:24:44

I've been doing ds' VB-MAPP assessment for ABA, he scores pretty low for motor imitation because he doesn't respond to 'do this _'

In normal life he seems to imitate though - variations on games, motor actions, playing with toys, he picks up a couple of makaton signs a day from watching DVDs ... I don't teach him any of those things hand over hand; does that mean he imitates?

I make silly noises (wee/bong/ahahah etc) when we watch his favourite DVDs - he's started doing those noises too ... is that a type of vocal imitation?

I'm so confused. If he can do those things why won't he mimic faces I make or echo sounds/words back to me? Why won't he generally comply with 'do this - clap' etc in an ABA session? Why have I never been able to teach him pat-a-cake?

Why does he resist being prompted (hand-over-hand) so strongly?

saintlydamemrsturnip Mon 31-Aug-09 23:12:30

That does sound like imitation to me. When ds1 didn't imitate he literally could not copy. So if we showed him how to do something it was utterly meaningless. He learned nothing from us doing things around him. He only learned hand over hand or being physically manipulated.

He may resist being prompted hand over hand if he has sensory issues to do with being touched. That's got a lot better with ds1 as he's got older. Although he sometimes resists for reasons of non-compliance.

As it sounds as if he can imitate there might be something else up. Does he understand 'do this?' It may be that he hasn't worked out what it means yet. Or he may be quite dyspraxic, or have a motor initiation problem which makes it hard to imitate on demand. For example some children with severe verbal dyspraxia cannot imitate an open mouth on demand, but put some ice cream on a spoon and hold it towards their mouth and it opens. It's not so much the movement, it's the producing it on demand.

Do make sure you are using really really strong reinforcers if he is finding hand over hand difficult. But this is all new isn't it? It does take some time. Remember it's a marathon not a sprint, so don't worry if things take time.

sadminster Mon 31-Aug-09 23:27:48

That's really interesting - thanks so much to think about - I was sure he imitates, but this process has made me question everything.

In a couple of sessions he has responded immediately & appropriately to the command so I think he understands hmm (back to compliance again).

He resists being prompted to clap far more strongly than other actions so perhaps it is sensory - I'm going to leave it out for a while & see how he gets on.

Both BIBIC (& our ABA consultant) think there may be some verbal dyspraxia.

The motor initiation thing sounds really interesting ... ds often responds too late (e.g. not waving until after people have left, or shouting GO! a minute after I've said ready ... steady ...). I wonder if I need to give him longer to respond before prompting.

Phoenix4725 Tue 01-Sep-09 05:26:14

ds has veral/oral dyspraxia and can not make his mout doshapes/noise son demand.Though he has started to imate in his own fashion due to motor isssues but that on;y came after 18 months of hand over hand

saintlydamemrsturnip Tue 01-Sep-09 08:08:14

A delay between needing to produce an action and being ableto produce it (on demand on time) can be common in autism. VB style fast trials did help ds1 a lot with that .

We found teaching imitation with objects (eg toy tomato into a box) easier to prompt hand over hand than things like clapping which he also resisted.

sphil Tue 01-Sep-09 08:15:30

DS2(6) can often do things spontaneously that he seems unable to do on demand, though this has improved as he's got older. His ABA therapist at Growing Minds used to say that what ABA/VB was great for was getting him to respond 'on demand, on time', which it certainly helped to do. Do you know about fast trials? They are great for this sort of difficulty - they really focus attention and help 'fluency' in imitation as well as speech. I wouldn't worry about them atm as you are just starting the process and your DS needs to get used to the whole idea but it's something to bear in mind. I'm not sure whether all ABA programmes do them - google Vince Carbone to find out more, or someone here may be able to do a better link.

It's very frustrating though isn't it? DS2 is fine with imitation now - even though he finds it physically impossible to copy some motor movements (dyspraxia) he will always have a go and his verbal imitation is good (though again, spontaneous speech is limited). He didn't imitate at all at your son's age though - ABA definitely taught him this skill. It's very positive that your DS is imitating in the 'natural environment'. Could you take one of the things he imitates and transfer it to the ABA session? That might help to teach him what 'do this' means?

Oh, and we had the delayed response issue too. Still do, but it's much much better now.Just have to work on actually LOOKING at the person he's waving at or saying goodbye to!grin

sphil Tue 01-Sep-09 08:16:51

Tee hee - Mrs T and I are of the one mind grin

fanjoforthemammaries7850 Tue 01-Sep-09 08:24:38

My DD has JUST started imitation, I think she is 2 months older than your DS. I found what triggered it was going back to a really basic level, like blowing kisses and playing peekaboo, waving/clapping, like I would to a much younger child.

It has grown from there and i HOPE it will continue to do so.

sadminster Tue 01-Sep-09 08:57:37

So do these count as imitation? None required any hand over hand & ds just did them, no big deal
- we went to the park & I posted a ball through a tyre swing, ds then picked up the ball & posted it back - we did it a few times.
- when threading I started saying wee as the bead goes now the string & bang when it gets to the bottom, ds now joins in with the Bang!
- dh put a cotton reel of some string & waved it around, ds did the same with his string & reel.
- ds was playing with cars & the CM got a loo roll & rolled a car through it, ds started doing the same.
- I threw a ball into the corner of the room, ds picked up another couple of balls & threw them to the same place.

There's an awful lot of seemingly simple things he just doesn't get - pushing a car to another person to push back etc.

At the moment we're only doing hands on head, bang the box & clap hands - maybe I should change some of the actions - jump or something with an object? Maybe splashing in the bath (which he loves).

I'm back in the information overloads want someone to tell me EXACTLY what to to phase. Do we just bash away at the imitation until he's got it? It's so hard when everything is uncertain.

Will look up fast trials.

fanjoforthemammaries7850 Tue 01-Sep-09 08:59:59

They are definitely imitation, and sound quite impressive.

sadminster Tue 01-Sep-09 09:05:34

We must of done hundreds of VB imitations now & he has done 6 without prompting ... so, so, so frustrating. I just don't understand why he can't do it. Is there some other issue going on?

I just have the feeling that if I try to introduce things I know he can do into a session he'll stop doing them (he's stopped clapping spontaneously since we've started the VB).

fanjoforthemammaries7850 Tue 01-Sep-09 09:07:18

I don't know that much about ABA. I do know that my DD will also only imitate CERTAIN things, which seem to appeal to her, and would do it all day long.

Sorry, that is not much help though!

saintlydamemrsturnip Wed 02-Sep-09 14:23:02

yes weird with the stopping the spontaenous stuff,that happened to us too for years, but has come back now.

Yes those things you mention are imitation.

it may be taking ds a while to get used to the table format. Are you using really stong reinforcers? If he does it with very strong reinforcement but not lesser reinforcement you know you have a compliance issue. Does he enjoy the sessions?

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