Reading to a baby or toddler is a very natural and spontaneous activity which parents enjoy as much as the child himself.
Sadly, many nonverbal toddlers with autism become nonverbal adults with whom interaction is complicated and sometimes limited.
Reading to your nonverbal adult has the same benefits as reading to a young child. It helps with vocabulary development and retention, and auditory processing, but it has also been shown to have a considerable impact on developing awareness and relaxation.
One particular study shows that nonverbal adults respond more to the reading of poetry than stories. The author read Emily Dickinson poems to his group of adults and observed a gradual improvement of reactivity, awareness and interest.
Parents’ voices have an identity and resonance for their child, whatever the age, and spending a few minutes a day sitting comfortably, reading poetry out loud is a strong recommendation Mendability gives to the parents using the therapy.
Conversation time and reading time are part of the therapy and part of the journey to recovery and improved interaction in the family.
Having an aroma diffuser or a scent on your shoulder or his shoulder while you read will add to the impact of the moment and increase the listener’s pleasure and relaxation.
Here’s an example of a poem that we like by Emily Dickinson.
HOPE IS THE THING WITH FEATHERS
‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers—
That perches in the soul—
And sings the tune without the words—
And never stops—at all—
And sweetest—in the Gale—is heard—
And sore must be the storm—
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm—
I’ve heard it in the chillest land—
And on the strangest Sea—
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb—of Me.
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- Wexler M. A poetry program for the very elderly—Narrative perspective on one therapeutic model. Journal of Poetry Therapy. 2014;27(1):35-46. doi:10.1080/08893675.2014.871811.