Susan's Blog

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Chit Chat

Oh he never speaks his passions
He never speaks his views
Where other men speak volumes
The man I love is mute
In truth I can’t recall
Being wooed with words, at all
Even now…
–He Plays the Violin, “1776”

Nat did not want to “play on the computer today.” Still, I thought it would be good for him to get in the habit of articulating his thoughts and getting himself out there. He, like his father, and apparently Thomas Jefferson, is a man of few (spoken) words! He is completely unnerved by the December sky, which only starts to get light when he leaves for school and starts to get dark when he comes home. The street lights in our neighborhood are not well calibrated and they flicker on and off. Oh, insensitive Town of Brookline!

On another front, I spent a few hours with a friend in a local mall today, helping her decorate her house. We were hanging around in Restoration Hardware and I noticed a stocking stuffer type of gift called, “Chit Chat.” They were billing it as a box of conversation starters. It was a lucite container holding little square cards, each with a question or statement that would get you thinking, such as, “What are the best landmarks in your city, and why?” and “What is your favorite entree?” Kind of typical Restoration Hardware crowd fare, but it got me thinking, there could be such a thing made for folks with ASD. Someone like Nat could really benefit from a modified “Chit Chat;” with questions like, “What was something good that happened today.” or “Tell me what your favorite sport is.”

My friend actually bought “Chit Chat” as a family Chanukah present. I think it’s a great way to get talking. This is something Ned and I do sometimes. We just sit and tell each other favorite this or least favorite that, and sometimes we try to guess what the other would think. I find it’s best played lying together on a couch or the wife sitting on the husband’s lap. That way I can be sure to have his full attention; blocks the laptop quite nicely!


I’ve been playing a version of this game with my friend in Iraq. We get to email each other for 12 hours every four days. He can ask each other anything, but we have to answer honestly. It’s actually interesting. Not just the answers, but the questions too.
“If someone is jumping off a roof to commit suicide, but as he goes down, someone shoots him with the intent of murdering him, is he murdered, or did he commit suicide?”

— added by Anonymous on Wednesday, December 20, 2006 at 9:48 am

I play a version of this with my students on the autism spectrum (and come to think of it, I even played it with 4 yr olds when I taught nursery school) and I call it Brain Push-ups. Usually I start out asking any question that can have the word ‘favorite’ in it (what’s your favorite breakfast, dessert, bedtime story, kisser, playground toy) and if all goes well and we get into some kind of rhythm, then I get into “your worst food, subject, vegetable, game, teacher, type of weather…etc.

— added by Sher on Wednesday, December 20, 2006 at 12:37 pm

The shortened sunlight, that’s the worst thing about New England, IMO.

So I’m living in Texas now….

— added by Julia on Thursday, December 21, 2006 at 2:15 pm