Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Baby Talk (Kate Altman, M.S.)


While visiting Doug, a 17 year-old guy with an ASD, at his school, his teacher stopped to speak with him for a few moments. She spoke animatedly in a bright, cheerful voice and complimented him on some recent academic successes he had had. When she walked away, the young man turned to me and remarked, “she’s a very nice person, but sometimes she talks to me like I’m a little slow.”


Other adolescents and young adults on the spectrum have told me that some people tend to speak to them like they are much younger, using sing-songy voices and asking questions that you’d more typically ask a younger child. One young man told me he thinks that his gestures are still childlike, which naturally causes people to talk to him like he’s a child, even though he is a senior in college. Doug speaks very slowly with a flat tone, which may be why his teacher addresses him with babytalk, even though he is a bright and mature high schooler.

Adolescents and adults who find that they are "babytalked" by other adults may experience anything from amusement to tolerance to disgust and anger. Communicating that they do not want to be "babytalked" to the babytalker in a respectful way can be challenging and daunting, especially because they babytalker is usually a well-intentioned person. This subtle and complicated dilemma provides insight into the challenges of being a self-advocate in everyday life.

What are your experiences with babytalk, and how do you, or your child, handle it?

3 comments:

  1. Since my grandson's autism diagnosis, I've become more aware of how I respond and enter into conversation with him. That awareness has spilled over into communication with others. This article has raised my consciousness as to the tone of my voice as well. As a Kindergarten teacher I was well aware of not "talking down" to my students. Choices and decisions I've made while navigating the spectrum terrain, I think has made me a better listener. Information, education, and understanding: I can change, adapt and learn new ways to communicate! This grandparent welcomes the knowledge that there's always other ways, ones that will respect differences. I welcome the awareness that I can adapt, change and learn.
    Today Mon April 12 How timely that Dr. Gottlieb's Voices in the Family will be addressing the following issue: Choices and Decisions Making Informed choices!
    Voices In The Family
    04/12/10
    We are constantly making choices from the time we get up in the morning to the moment we go to sleep. Some choices might seem simple like what to eat for breakfast; while other decisions, such as what to do with your life, can be paralyzing. To better understand what leads us to the choices we make, join Dr. Dan Gottlieb for an interview with Sheena Iyengar. She's one of the world's top experts on choice and currently a professor at Columbia University's business school in New York City. In her new book The Art of Choosing, Iyengar explores the biology and psychology behind choice, how different cultures make decisions, and what we can do to make better choices.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Since my grandson's autism diagnosis, I've become more aware of how I respond and enter into conversation with him. That awareness has spilled over into communication with others. This article has raised my consciousness as to the tone of my voice as well. As a Kindergarten teacher I was well aware of not "talking down" to my students. Choices and decisions I've made while navigating the spectrum terrain, I think has made me a better listener. Information, education, and understanding: I can change, adapt and learn new ways to communicate! This grandparent welcomes the knowledge that there's always other ways, ones that will respect differences. I welcome the awareness that I can adapt, change and learn.
    Today Mon April 12 How timely that Dr. Gottlieb's Voices in the Family will be addressing the following issue: Choices and Decisions Making Informed choices!
    Voices In The Family
    04/12/10
    We are constantly making choices from the time we get up in the morning to the moment we go to sleep. Some choices might seem simple like what to eat for breakfast; while other decisions, such as what to do with your life, can be paralyzing. To better understand what leads us to the choices we make, join Dr. Dan Gottlieb for an interview with Sheena Iyengar. She's one of the world's top experts on choice and currently a professor at Columbia University's business school in New York City. In her new book The Art of Choosing, Iyengar explores the biology and psychology behind choice, how different cultures make decisions, and what we can do to make better choices.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is a very interesting blog and so i like to visit your blog again and again. Keep it up.

    Sharon

    http://www.bukisa.com/articles/274655_how-to-become-a-better-listener

    ReplyDelete