My son is on the autism spectrum. He's not the typical "autistic" kid, although that is the diagnosis that seems to fit closest (although not best). One of the interesting things about him has always been his scripted play. From a very early age (about two years old), Jake could recite things, and that is how he played. We would find him with his toys, narrating an episode of Blue's Clues, but changing the names to "Jake" and "Mom," or something like that. Not even really understanding what it was at the time, we all thought it was really neat. He was never one for spontaneous play, where he set up elaborate scenes. Even to this day, his play is not very verbal.
When Jake started school, we used to laugh at his play. He would come home and play school. We would overhear him, even if he was in his room by himself, talking. Reciting, verbatim, scenes from the school day. We could tell exactly what went on in the classroom, or the library, or on the bus. Thanks to his excellent memory, and despite the fact that he did not often tell us about his day, we had good insight as to how he was being treated in school.
Now, Jake's sister is the total opposite. She disappears into her room or the playroom, and sets up elaborate scenes. Her toys act out complex dynamic relationships, complete with sound effects. She loves animals, and has a whole set of animal "action figures." The noises they "make" are hysterical. She very verbal. Excessively so. What Jake struggles with pragmatically, she has in spades.
Sophia is in first grade. She is the reluctant student. Although curious by nature, she has bucked against learning to read. She could careless about how she forms her letters, and doesn't take the time to sound out her words to attempt to spell them correctly. She has trouble with how she holds her pencil (and crayons and markers). Although bright, she only seems invested in school for the social aspect. However, her teacher (who is the same one who had Jake) must be working wonders. Sophia is getting praised for her effort and hard work.
Tonight, Sophia brought me her supplies (paper, pencil with grip, crayons and markers) and said, "I want to write a book. Will you help me check my words for spelling?" So, she's sitting here next to me, writing and illustrating her book (which will be a gift for her teacher). We're working on the grip. She's attempting to spell the words first, and writing carefully. Her first page was about art class. She drew a detailed picture. While drawing the picture, I realize that she is explaining to me how art class works, just as it had been explained to her. Tonight, she's engaging in scripted play.
I feel like we've come full circle.