Tonight we had some friends and their kids over. A, as usual, is mostly disconnected, but they did a considerable amount of parallel play, and he had moments of stinted communication. At a certain point he was interacting negatively with the kids – pulling things out when he the kids wanted to put things in, making loud noises, etc. As I was observing, I took him aside, which took considerable effort because he didn’t want to listen to me or anything. Once I finally had his attention, I asked him why he was playing so badly with the other kids. He said that he wanted to get his “robot arm” back, which was in a large cardboard box that the kids were putting other things into. However, two things made this difficult – he referred to the robot arm as his “sword”, and his initiation and communication skills are really terrible.
I offered to help him ask the two other kids, and he said yes, so together we went and asked them. Prior to going, I told him not to refer to his robot arm as a sword. The first thing out of his mouth: “Can I have my sword?”, in a very meek voice towards their general direction, but not at anyone in particular. I told him that it wasn’t a sword, and rather a robot arm, and modeled the sentence for him: “Can I have my robot arm back, please?”. He repeated it quite nicely, but at that point, the kids had heard me say it and busily went to retrieve it for him. He was happy, and more importantly, it helped the two other kids to understand what he wanted and prevented further bad behavior.