Some time ago, I was working in a summer speech clinic. At that clinic was this bouncy, saucy little girl with Down’s Syndrome. She jabbered away and never once needed my approval. She didn’t recognize that I was supposed to be a part of her communication.
She was strong in the areas of labeling and repeating, but she didn’t initiate conversations. She had a terrific family who faithfully followed my homework schedule.
That is how she became the French Fry thief! I recognized that this little girl was not sharing attention. She was school-aged but
didn’t attend to what I was doing or saying. So, we began an activity using Mr. Potato Head. I offered two versions of the same body part. She could point or say, but she had to tell me to give the desired body part. Once I put down the unwanted item, I could see that her attention had waned. I had to show the body part to her again. She would reach, indicating that she was interested. I noticed that when I placed the object in her hand, she would often look away, which is an action that I find happening more and more.
Giving a tug, she alerted to the fact that something was wrong. I then told her to look at the toy, then my eyes. It wasn’t long after that she learned that something would happen when she said, " give.”
For homework, I instructed her family to remove things that they didn’t want her to have. For the next week, anytime she requested someone to give her an object, she should be allowed to have the thing. But if she looked away, they would tug on her hand and make her look at the item and then the giver.
I only had four weeks with this delightfully spunky girl. On the last session, the mother pulled me aside and told me that over the weekend, the little girl had asked her middle sister to give one French fry at a time until the entire bag was gone!
On that same session, when she walked into the therapy room, she began to talk to herself as she had previously. With me deep in thought, she shouted, “Hey. I’m talking to you!”
That is how you become happy to be in the presence of a French Fry Thief!