The WHERE of Language

Posted by By at 9 February, at 10 : 00 AM Print

The WHERE of Language

Hi there! Long time, no blog!

The Rocket Family Chronicles started streaming (as opposed to “airing”) on The Autism  Channel via Roku in late September or early October (2012). I can’t actually recall, at this point, the exact date it all rolled out. Since then, the channel’s viewership has grown from 3 to about 15,000 (about 3500/mo.) Here, we’ve been spending all our spare time producing Intros and Outros with Sam Rubin to wrap around the episodes. And, we created something new called Rocket Extras which have turned into teaching moments about living life on the ASD trajectory.

We get daily reports from The Autism Channel, mostly about the expanding world of digital media platforms and including news about market trends for cable, network, and other means of content distribution. The trending suggests that people are more and more accessing content on their computers and then speaking to one another from where ever they are into a larger community of speakers/listeners “out there.” Generally, analytics tend to make my brain freeze up. But, it’s been fascinating to look at the power and numbers of these communications in this emerging medium which is both here and there…outside of one’s physical sphere and that which we internalize when we read these communications.

Recently, there was a TED talk entitled “The Birth of a Word” that addresses this very phenomenon, in which an M.I.T. researcher, Deb Roy and his team, showed the virtual pattern for language acquisition of his infant son, demonstrating the context-based aspect of language acquisition. It reminded me of how difficult it was for my son to learn language. The take-away for me from Dr. Roy’s talk was the both the context-based nature of language acquisition and the connective tissue that language is for humans. In my son’s case, he had language, lost it, and had to regain it. This was a very painstaking process, as anyone who’s been through it understands. In his case, the language always accelerated in natural (as opposed to therapeutic) environments where the words were spoken in relation to the actions that took place in those places. So, I’d say that our experience corelates to his research and probably has some powerful lessons for helping to teach kids on the spectrum how to speak.

Context IS key to Word-of-Mouth communication. Our show was “lost,” for example, on YouTube when we first put it up. It was like trying to speak in a normal voice in a crowded room. With 100,000 videos being uploaded every second, how in the heck were we going to get eyeballs on the show unless we put up a bunch of frenetic kitty videos? The Autism Channel, by it’s very name, creates one of Roy’s descriptive “data points” around which a conversation takes place. In our case, the conversation of Autism.

But The Rocket Family Chronicles is more than that. It is about Family, Language/Communication, our shared experience of Autism, the things that we do and who we are that Connects us together…and how both vast and commonplace the world of Autism has become. As I learn more how to swim the stream that the Internet is, I have found solace in the community-at-large. In a counter-intuitive way, the larger living room (or living room clique, as I think Roy described it) is a welcome salve for the isolation that being an autism parent can be.

We’d love to have you join The Rocket Insiders’ Club as a means to stay in touch with you. Welcome to the datapoint of our living room!




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