My special needs daughter, “Little Miss”, is 10 years old. She talks slowly. Well, no I take that back. She RESPONDS slowly. SheTalksAMileAMinute. Interrupting her train of thought with a question is pointless unless you have boarded her train to gently steer it onto the new track.
Even inviting her onto a new train of thought when she is quiet does not often precipitate a response.
People outside of the “special community” sometimes PEPPER her with questions. It would be like paying for a train ticket and being handed 10 tickets to different locations, all leaving simultaneously! Have you ever noticed the time lapse between questions in every day conversation? Not even two seconds go by before another question is volleyed.
When well-meaning friends or strangers attempt conversation with Little Miss, and begin peppering her with questions, I (without losing eye contact with my lovely daughter) reach over and place my hand lightly on the questioner’s forearm and slowly, gently say “count to 20 slowly in your mind while you await her response”. I’ve had excellent results.
People talk to her because they are curious, want to express care and recognize her dignity as a human being. Generally, they appreciate help. I want my daughter to feel comfortable in society so I am willing to help in anyway I can.
We have to train people outside the “special community” to harness their zeal and be effective with our kids/loved ones. Our kids are worth it. So are people in general.