Interview with a Shark

Jake as Mr.Shark

During Jake’s session with Katie they discussed the various ways animals communicate. Afterwards she asked him which animal would he be most interested in interviewing if animals could communicate like humans do.  Jake answered “not sure.”  She gave him three choices – a dog, a shark, or a koala – and he spelled “shark.”

At home I gave Jake the option of doing a creative writing activity of doing that (pretend) interview with a shark. To my delight he was willing to try it! 

We discussed the purpose of an interview, and then I gave him the option of being the interviewer or the shark. Jake chose to be the shark:

Interviewer (Mom/Tara/Me):  I am so excited to get to talk to you today Mr.Shark, thank-you for agreeing to do this interview!

Mr.Shark (Jake):  Most eager to not eat you.

Interviewer (Mom/Tara/Me):  Oh, yes, thank-you so much for refraining for a while…so are you sure you’ll be able to control yourself?

Mr.Shark (Jake):  Most hope so. Have to stick to my real nice thoughts.

Interviewer (Mom/Tara/Me): OK, great, I must admit I did not realize a shark could be so generous and kind!  You realize you have a cruel reputation – do you think that’s fair?

Mr. Shark (Jake):  I have to eat.

Interviewer (Mom/Tara/Me): Yes, I suppose that’s true. At the risk of making you hungry, what are your favorite foods?

Mr.Shark (Jake):  Most not too picky, not most like hard things.

Interviewer (Mom/Tara/Me): By “hard things” do you mean things that have hard bodies or things that are hard to catch?

Mr. Shark (Jake):  Only to not most have to interest eagerness in things that good hardness involved.

Interviewer (Mom/Tara/Me):  Can you give me one example?

Mr. Shark (Jake):  Stupid hard lobsters.

Interviewer (Mom/Tara/Me):  Oh, yes, I bet those aren’t the easiest meal for you! So, Let’s change the subject – what do you like to do for fun?

Mr. Shark (Jake):  Have good time swimming nice, awesome ocean. Most relaxing!

Interviewer (Mom/Tara/Me):  Yes, you have a huge ocean to enjoy. Who would you consider your best friends?

Mr. Shark (Jake):  Most really like other sharks.

Interviewer (Mom/Tara/Me):  Anything scare you, Mr.Shark?

Mr.Shark (Jake): Have to have most ridiculous huge size to scare me!

Interviewer (Mom/Tara/Me): I guess so! Good answer, how true! How about your hopes and dreams for the future, what are you looking forward to?

Mr.Shark (Jake):  Getting most delicious fish for my lunch.

Interviewer (Mom/Tara/Me):  OK, well, if you’re getting hungry I guess we should wrap this interview up. Thank-you, again, Mr.Shark – any last comments you’d like to share with the world?

Mr.Shark (Jake):  Have help my ocean, really hope not mess it up with garbage.

Interviewer (Mom/Tara/Me):  Beautiful! Yes, we all hope that!

Jake McClintick is now 23 years old and has been learning to communicate using a letterboard since age 18. Learning the process of using a letterboard through the Rapid Prompting Method (RPM) was a gradual process that took several years. We are still working on expanding RPM and Jake’s confidence/skills beyond our “work sessions.”  Regardless, this low-tech alternative communication system has been an answered prayer for us both.

At the age of 22 he began expressing his very personal thoughts and feelings more fluently with me (his mom), and it was his idea to begin writing “The Story of My Life” one day. He is diagnosed with severe autism as well as intermittent explosive disorder. He has given me permission to share his story and our conversations.

Jake continually expresses his desire to “find purpose” to his life…I hope his willingness to share will help others learn about this misunderstood condition known as “autism” that has so much to teach us all.