I realized that I don’t actually know a really great definition of scripting. So, if anyone else has one, please pass it along. The way I talk about scripting is that it is repeating phrases or words, sometimes from books or movies or t.v. shows, sometimes from social stories, sometimes from what a parent, teacher, or friend has said. Sometimes scripts are used in place of novel language, sometimes they are used because they’re comforting, and sometimes they’re just fun.
Examples of scripting can include:
-The 7th grade boy who, every Friday, says to his friend, “What day is it today?!” and waits for her to reply, “Friday!!” and then giggles and laughs to himself
-The 5th grade boy who will only communicate in metaphors related to the Muppets
-The 6th grade boy who, when another child is acting silly, quotes his something his speech therapist said once, and says, “Ohh, let’s remember to keep our silliness at a level 2!”
-The 4th grade girl who, when anxious, says, “I do not know how to tie my shoes” because on a t.v. show once, the character was anxious about not knowing how to tie his shoes
Now for all of those – they serve a purpose. Scripting is purposeful. It’s not useless, it’s not a detriment to communication. It IS communication. And I got to thinking the other day, how we actually all script. Not in the same way that our autistic kiddos might, but we all have our little rituals and sayings and routines that we say and do and enjoy.
-When my dad used to come home from work when I was little, he would always say, “Hello hello!” and if he didn’t, something felt off
-A parent saying, “Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite” every night, before leaving their child’s room
-My brother, upon seeing me, saying, “How’s your face?” and me replying, “You know, it’s okay” [which makes no sense, but it makes us smile and it's our routine, and it's communication and scripting and who cares]
-My extended family reciting the same stories over and over again because they are funny and comforting and it’s routine and ritual
-Quoting “Friends” episodes with my friends, because they’re hilarious
Think about the phrases, the words, the scripts that you use to communicate with your loved ones. We all do it, to a degree. And it’s okay.
So when a child you are working with is scripting, script with them. Use their interests and scripts to communicate. Figure out what they’re trying to convey. And yes, there are times that they might just be having fun, because scripting is fun. Like my student last year who preferred scripting episodes of “The Simpsons” to doing any work, ever. And in that case, it’s okay to call it what it is. And to say, “First let’s do some work, then we can script at the end of class.” But if a student says something seemingly random, and you’re not sure why, there’s usually a reason and a purpose. It might take time to figure it out, but it’s there. And it can really help you figure out how they’re feeling, what they’re thinking, and what they need from you.
What has your experience been with scripting, either personally or professionally?