Hi everyone, I’m Amythest and welcome to
Ask an Autistic. Scripting is a
topic that has been requested by quite a few people and I am excited to tackle it today But first I need to clear up any confusion, I am going to be addressing two similar but different behaviours today and I have heard
both of them being referred to as scripting. So I’ll be giving an overview of these two
kinds of scripting. The first kind is what I refer to as echolalial
scripting and the second is what I refer to as social scripting. So two distinct autistic
behaviours but I’ve heard the same word used to describe both of them. Echolalial scripting is well-known amongst
the parents of autistic children and it is sometimes referred to as “TV talk”. Echolalial
scripting is similar to simple echolalia, but echolalia is usually the repetition of
single words or phrases whereas echolalial scripting is more like the recitation of longer
passages of dialogue from books or movies or audio-media or whatever. Echolalia scripting
I think is very misunderstood. A lot of neurotypical parents don’t like
it because it is again, like stimming, one of those obviously autistic behaviours. I
also feel like it is misunderstood in that a lot of neurotypical people believe that
when autistic children or adults are engaging in echolalial scripting they’re not engaged
socially and you know they are “in their own little world”. For myself and for the
autistic children and people that I’ve known, that’s not really the case. In fact, echolalial
scripting, while it is often used for enjoyment, like stimming, just because it’s fun, it
can also be a method of expression and of social, if not interaction, then at least
engagement. You know, I am here, and I am present with you. For example, an autistic child who is sitting
at the dinner table with their family and the family is talking about what happened
during their day, and, you know, their opinions on this TV show or this movie or whatever,
and if the autistic child keeps interjecting with scripting, echolalial scripting, saying
lines from a movie or a book, the family might get annoyed or think that that child isn’t
paying attention. But the child is actually engaging with you right now. While echolalial scripting is fun and enjoyable
for autistic people, I myself particularly enjoy reciting dialogue from Lilo and Stitch
when I am in a good mood, it can also be used as a method of expression. But this method
of expression or even communication is often overlooked or misunderstood by neurotypical
people. I have found that, especially in emotionally charged situations, I find myself repeating
dialogue or quotations from a book or a movie that I feel is somehow applicable to me, to
my needs or wants in that moment. And while in that moment I am unable to direct my thoughts
into my own words, so to speak, I am able to express via familiar and comforting lines
of dialogue from movies or books. And I think later that I WAS communicating, you know,
when I was close to meltdown or when I was very frustrated. What I, what I kept repeating,
whatever line or quotation was applicable, just maybe not in a very linear way. So I
think that if you start to think of it as not only something enjoyable like stimming,
but also as a potential form of communication and expression, then you can start to watch.
“In what situations does my daughter do that script?” or “In what situations does
my son use echolalial scripting more?”. And maybe this certain phrase means that he’s
happy and excited. And so I guess what I want to say is while
echolalial scripting is often just for enjoyment, because it’s fun, it feels good, autistic
children will have their favourite scripts that they say over and over and that’s fine
and it’s great and it’s actually good for them in their development. But echolalial
scripting also has the possibility to be a method of expression and even a way to make
needs met. Even if this form of expression and communication isn’t at first easily
decipherable or very “normal”. The second kind of scripting, I refer to as
social scripting. And I feel like this is more applicable to autistic teenagers and
adults, but autistic children will start to use scripts from a very very young age. For
myself, it’s how I learnt how to verbally communicate. I would speak using phrases and
quotations from Disney movies, and eventually graduating into longer and longer scripts.
Then, when I was about 3 or 4, I started to have needs beyond what I could make met with
echolalial scripting from Disney movies. And so I started to kind of piece together what
I heard in movies, conversational dialogue, and what people were saying around me. And
through this cutting and pasting, I graduated into speaking with what neurotypical people
like to call “my own words”. Now I’ve heard social scripting referred to as insincere
and even rude and I want to make it clear that autistic people, we don’t use social
scripts because we don’t like you. If we greet you the same way every morning, it’s
because that is how it’s easiest for us to communicate. We could spend tons of brain
energy every morning coming up with a new way to say hello, or we could stick to our
social script that we have memorised and that we feel comfortable with. The fact that we
are communicating with you at all, making an effort to verbally communicate and to socialise,
it’s something I feel shouldn’t be overlooked. Neurotypical people use social scripting.
You know, somebody who passes you in the hallway, at church or on the street, they say “how
are you doing?”, you say “I’m fine thanks, how are you?”. These are ingrained phrases and words that
neurotypical people just automatically say, you know, it’s kind of the socially acceptable
response. For autistic people, it’s not automatic. These social scripts are helpful
for us because if we know what to expect, we can feel confident and secure that we can
go through our bank of memorised social scripts, and we can know what we are going to say next. I feel like parents also get too hang up on
trying to teach their child to speak in their own words and not to be dependent on social
scripts. Many autistic people, when they are finally comfortable with someone, which can
honestly take months or years, they will start to express themselves in a way that is natural
to them. And that could be everything from non-verbal communication like stimming, or
it could be using echolalial scripting to enjoy a shared experience together. Or it
can be just their own words, so to speak. But chances are that autistic
people’s “own words” won’t sound like what neurotypical people’s “own words”
are. The fact is that autistic brains are different. And so you have to decide. As a
parent, do you want your autistic child to say socially acceptable things, or do you
want them to express themselves. Because chances are, if an autistic child gets to choose how
they express themselves, they may greet people with facts about blue whales, or they may
answer “what’s your name?” with a happy humming sound and then hand-flapping away.
Or they can have a memorised bank of social scripts that they can use, so that when they
are asked “what is your name?” they respond with their name and then “what’s your
name?”. This isn’t black and white, you know, “either or”. I have times when I
will just be myself, and I will express myself. However I feel is natural and good to me. And yes, that involves a lot of echolalial
scripting. There are times when I’m in public or with people I don’t know when I will
use social scripting. And then there’s times when I will use a mix of both. For these videos,
I use social scripting, and I use my method of cutting and pasting together words and
phrases that I’ve heard or read and memorised to make my own sentences. But if you’re
expecting your autistic child to one day suddenly grow out of their neurotype and be able to
spontaneously and easily converse with any member of the human race they happen to encounter,
that probably isn’t going to happen. Social scripts are very important to autistic people,
to help us feel comfortable, confident and secure enough to even socialise at all. So
taking those away really leaves us floundering. And echolalial scripting is wonderful and
it’s fun, and it’s an important part of an autistic child’s development. So I would
say: please do not discourage social scripting. Please do not discourage echolalial scripting.
Yeah, you might find it a little annoying, you know, the same repeated words or phrases
or lines of dialogue. But I mean, you’re a parent, and what kid isn’t annoying sometimes?
And know that if you child is sitting with you and using echolalial scripting, whether
they are allowing you to join in and whether or not they are outwardly interacting with
you, they are verbally expressing themselves and this could be a way for them to share
something that they really love and enjoy with you. I know that that was the case for
me when I was a kid. This video was just a brief overview of the
two kinds of scripting, echolalial scripting, and social scripting. I will be doing videos
in the future that go more in depth on each of the kinds of scripting. So a video for
echolalial scripting and a video for social scripting. If you have a topic that you would
like for me to discuss, or if you have a question that you would like answering in a video,
feel free to post your question in the comment section below or message it to me. And if
you liked this video feel free to “thumbs up” and subscribe for more “Ask an Autistic”.
Thank you for watching!