by Marcia Hinds – Megan and Ryan’s Mom
For most of us, Siri is merely a helpful phone app. But for children with autism, she can be so much more. For Gus, who didn’t quite understand how back and forth conversational skills are done, Siri is a nonjudgmental friend and teacher. Judith Newman is Gus’s mom and wrote the book
This book “To Siri with Love” is a collection of touching, hilarious, and illuminating stories about life with a thirteen-year-old boy with autism. It holds insights and revelations for every parent with a child on the spectrum. In it, Judith teaches us that motivation is key for our children and we must use whatever our kids love (or obsess over) to teach them. For Gus, that just happened to be Siri. Gus’s practice conversation with Siri helped him learn how to communicate with actual people.
Gus’s mom had the longest conversation with him she ever had with him after Siri came into their lives. Judith didn’t care that their conversation was about the intimate details concerning various different species of turtles. All she cared about was that Gus was engaged and was learning how to communicate effectively.
Turtles might not have been his mom’s first topic of choice, but she loved the interaction and that fact that her son was learning the back and forth skills needed to successfully communicate with others. When Gus asked his mom if she preferred the red-eared slider to the diamond-backed terrapin, she couldn’t have been happier. That kind of conversation never happened with her thirteen year old son before Siri became a part of his life.
And Siri doesn’t let doesn’t let our ASD kids get away with anything. Check out this conversation between Gus and Siri:
Gus: “Siri, will you marry me?”
Siri: “I’m not the marrying kind.”
Gus: “I mean, not now. I’m a kid. I mean when I’m grown up.”
Siri: “My end user agreement does not include marriage.”
Gus: “Oh, O.K.”
Gus wasn’t too disappointed. This was useful information to have, and for his mom it was the first time she knew that he actually ever thought about marriage.
After he turned over to go to sleep, but not before he said:
Gus: “Goodnight, Siri. Will you sleep well tonight?”
Siri: “I don’t need much sleep, but it’s nice of you to ask.”
But not everyone loves Judith’s book. Some of our highest functioning people with Asperger’s who believe autism is a gift and are boycotting this book. Judith Newman has reported that she has received a death threat. Much of what they are saying about the book is of course being taken out of context. And I know autism is never a gift, our children are the only gift!
NOTE FROM MARCIA HINDS – Megan and Ryan’s mom:
Ryan became an aerospace engineer, but more important than that what I wanted most for him actually happened. He is happy and has friends. Ryan’s recovery wasn’t miraculous but the result of receiving proper medical treatment combined with behavioral, and educational interventions. To preview my book, “I Know You’re In There – winning our war against autism”go to Amazon or my website www.autism-and-treatment.com
Contact info for Marcia: