Rory and Communication

Rory is 5 years old and has autism. He loves trampolining and his favourite video is Balamory.

Rory and the biscuits

Rory loves food, especially biscuits. So much so, food was becoming a daily source of frustration and upset for Rory and his family. Rory was spending an awful lot of his time trying to get something to eat. This involved never-ending requests for different foods and tantrums when these weren’t successful. Rory was spending less time involved in games and activities he’d previously enjoyed, as he couldn’t get food off his mind. And as Rory is a resourceful little boy and would often use his initiative, the kitchen door had to be locked and the whole family would avoid unnecessary trips to the kitchen.

Rory has some language, but we felt that especially when it came to things like biscuits that Rory feels so strongly about, his communications skills were letting him down.  He wasn’t confident that his request was being understood and was unsure of the response he got back. We decided to give Rory a clear and visual way to ask for food. By using pictures, Rory knew for sure what was on offer and when it was an appropriate time to ask for something to eat.

Having a concrete system that Rory understands and trusts has reduced the frustration both Rory and his family felt around snack times. Of course, there are still times that Rory wants a biscuit that he isn’t allowed, but now he feels confident that he has been understood, reducing a large part of his upset and frustration. Rory’s mum is also more confident that she has understood what Rory wants and can give him a clear answer that she knows he understands. And now she can still offer him choices of things to eat, even when biscuits are off the menu.

Rory’s older sister also uses the board with him, which enables more interaction between her and her brother.

Rory playing with the sand

The choices board we used with Rory… We provided a picture for all of the things on offer to Rory, and then his mum could pick any three that she’d like him to choose from each time she used the board.