This morning Emma asked to make pancakes. Emma knows how to make pancakes, she’s been perfecting her technique for years. So I said, “Sure. Let’s have pancakes.” Then I stood back as Emma proceeded to get out the bowl, whisk, measuring cup, pancake mix, milk and chocolate chips. As she poured the mix into the bowl and then the milk, she said, “Pour milk.” I stopped her and pointed to her. ”I have to pour in the milk,” she amended. She used the whisk to mix the batter with the milk.
“Hmmm. You could add a little more milk,” I said.
Emma poured more milk into the batter.
A bit later Emma added the chocolate chips. ”Are you finished with the chocolate chips?” I asked her.
“Yeah.” I stopped her and repeated the question.
“Yes. I am finished with the chocolate chips,” she answered.
“Then they can be put away,” I said. Emma dutifully put the chocolate chips back in the cupboard. After we’d poured the batter onto the grill I said, “Are the pancakes ready to be flipped?”
“Yeah,” Emma answered.
I repeated the question.
“Yes, the pancakes are ready to be flipped,” Emma said.
“Oh good. If you want you can flip them.” Emma picked up the spatula and flipped the pancakes. ”You’ll need a fork and knife to eat them with,” I said, holding the plate with her pancakes. Emma ran to the utensil drawer, got herself a fork and knife and returned to the table.
“Do you have everything you need?” I asked.
“Syrup!” Emma cried. But again I held her back and didn’t let her run to get the maple syrup. I waited. ”The maple syrup is missing,” she said. ”I need to get the maple syrup!” She ran off to get what Joe calls “liquid gold” because here in Aspen, maple syrup is more than twice the cost of maple syrup in New York city.
We have been working with Dr. Marion Blank for almost a year now. The literacy program Dr. Blank created specifically for children on the spectrum is but one part of a larger piece, which includes helping Emma navigate the rocky terrain of language and speech, something that is often difficult for children with autism. The above is an example of insisting Emma use the “rules” Dr. Blank has been trying to teach us to use with her at all times. I forget to insist on this, but it is imperative that we do so for optimum progress.
For more on Emma’s journey through a childhood of autism, go to: Emma’s Hope Book