Dr. Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D,B.C.S.A.,DAPA.

Dr. Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D,B.C.S.A.,DAPA.
e-mail: batushkad@yahoo.com

Thursday, November 02, 2006


In my work with autistic children I have found that there is significant power in 'joining in'. When I wrote the article, "Entering Their Imaginative World", this is what I was referring to by this title. We do not coerce the children to do things as our world sees them, but we seek to enter, understand, and respect the autistic child's world. Through this joining in, such simple things as hopping on one foot with a child who is hopping on one foot, I have seen an extraordinary development of communication and relationship. It was this very process of joining in where I personally saw a 3 year old non-verbal child who frequently engaged in self-stimulatory behaviors move towards communication through reciprocal dialogue, taking my hand and leading me to play with him and a peer, and the building of relationship.
I relate this story from John Clay's book R.D. Laing: A Divided Self. In this quote it describes one of Laing's times where he joined in with a person undergoing serious emotional distress and relationship was forged. Though certainly an unorthodox approach, it worked because it involved joining in and realizing that what may appear to others as seemingly meaningless behavior is meaningful for the individual.
"While still in Chicago, Laing was invited by some doctors to examine a young girl diagnosed as schizophrenic. The girl was locked into a padded cell in a special hospital, and sat there naked. She usually spent the whole day rocking to and fro. The doctors asked Laing for his opinion. What would he do about her? Unexpectedly, Laing stripped off naked himself and entered her cell. There he sat with her, rocking in time to her rythm. After about twenty minutes she started speaking, something she had not done for several months. The doctors were amazed. 'Did it never occur to you to do that?' Laing commented to them later, with feigned innocence. (pp. 170-171)"

-Dr. Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D.

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