Dr. James MacDonald 332 Mimring Columbus, Ohio 43202 Phone/Fax 614 447-0768 macdonaldj86@gmail.com

Communicating Partners

Dr. James D. MacDonald's Website

Helping Parents Help Children. Programs for Parents, Therapists & Educators

Social Language

First things first.

I always thought Therese's language would come by itself. Then you taught me all the things that both she and I needed to do before she would talk much on her own. The most important for him was to just stay interacting with me in any way he could and then to start making some of the sounds I made. And for me the keys seemed to be responding to his actions and sound with a word that fit the situation then give him time to talk back.


Words are just the tip of the language' iceberg'.

My twin boys, Alex and Sean, are delayed with many autistic features. I wanted them to talk more than anything and so I responded whenever they said a word. But then you taught me how to respond to everything they did, not just words. I had been missing seeing many things they were doing. I responded to their words but words were a tiny part of what they did. One thing that really helped them come alive was my imitating each of the boys. Not only did they attend to me more, I also got to know exactly what they were interested in and what they could succeed at doing. I had been pushing for things they could not do. By imitating, they stayed with me so much longer. The most exciting thing was that they responded to me: I was finally a person to them. They had rarely done that before.

Now the twins are 19, Alex is independent and in junior college and Sean is still at home with apart-time job.


I kept the developmental staircase in mind.

One notion that helped me with Jenna was to visualize both of us on her developmental staircase. When she was on the first step, just playing, I learned to be on that step with her. Then when she developed more I made sure I was keeping one step ahead of her. The image of a staircase helped me see when I was doing things that were impossible for her. And, when I would change my talking or acting to be more like hers, she stayed and communicated much more.


A good parent and a communicating partner can be different things.

My son, Eric, is 8 years old. At 5 he was only making sounds and mainly to himself. He rarely played with people and preferred being alone. We've been working with Dr. MacDonald for about three years. He has taught us that being a good parent is not the same thing as being a good communicating partner. We had to learn how to play in our child's world, which may sound easy-but was actually quite difficult. Some strategies that have been most effective are:

Our goal for Eric is to become a social and conversational person. I truly believe that he will achieve this goal because the strategies have become a way of life for us. Valerie


I needed permission to play with my son.

I am grateful for Communicating Partners for giving me the "permission," that I apparently needed, to freely play with Noah one of the most delightful playmates I've ever had. I thought I needed to be his teacher since he did not talk but that clearly had not worked.

Oh! I almost forgot the piece de resistance! We were going through photo cards, and I was pleasantly surprised to learn how many he knew without my actually ever teaching them to him But the clincher was this: I held up a card I had never seen before. It showed a Barbie doll with lots of long blonde hair in a swimsuit. And guess what he said????? He said:" MOMMA!!!!!!!!!!" Needless to say he made my day, and I had to advertise it all over the house! That's my boy!


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Dr. James MacDonald 332 Mimring Columbus, Ohio 43202 Phone/Fax (614)447-0768 macdonaldj86@gmail.com