Another aspect of Obie’s ASD is the repetition of sounds. We first noticed his vocalizations about a year ago. He would make a fun little dee deet sound whenever he was concentrating. We enjoyed it and would sometimes join in, which would always make his face light up!
Traditionally this is called stimming, or self stimulation. I’m only the parent, so I can only speak from my perspective, but he seems to do this most when he is hyper concentrating or just before frustration, and a handful of times I have associated it with boredom.
It started as dee deet, went to a louder version of this, and progressed, for a short time, to gulping air and burping, which always made interactions outside of our family very interesting 😬😂
When we began therapy through the state I began to read more about this behavior and it occurred to me that they may attempt to discourage it. This is the hardest part about his ASD and one that I struggle with mightily. To be clear, I don’t care about the noises and vocalizations; he just did a series of dee deets today, which had gone absent for weeks, and I was glad to have them back. It’s like when parents love hearing pasghetti until it turns into spaghetti, and they reminisce about the cute way they used to say it!
Anyway, it seems that the focus is on changing behaviors to make him more socially palatable. The dee deet, bah ah dah, and belches make him kind of stand out. So the effort, time, practice, and therapy focuses on eliminating it.
But hang on one hot second- why focus so much on how his behavior impacts those around us? What if his only self-regulating tool is discouraged, or worse, he’s taught to do it privately so as not to draw attention to himself. As if it is something to be ashamed of.
In my former life I used to be a classroom teacher, so I can empathize with the argument that, for educational purposes, a vocal stim may cause hardships in the classroom. However, I would argue that it should be used to teach students acceptance. What a learning opportunity that could go great lengths to changing the culture, so we don’t have to change our children.
Wouldn’t it be amazing that if instead of seeing autism as something broken that needed to be fixed, that we approached it as a way to see life from a different perspective?