Tag Archives: Autism Acceptance

A is for Anxiety: Expressions of PosAutivity: #AutismPositivity2014

By R

Recently I’ve blogged about the possibility that my son has Aspergers syndrome and the long journey we have started as parents trying to get him an assesment and appropriate help at school (indeed today we had a positive meeting with the Special Needs Co-ordinator (Senco) at his school).

Today, as my small part of Autism Positivity, I thought I’d go off topic on this blog again (after all, it’s supposed to be about my mental health) and shout something out to anyone that’s listening.

My son is wonderful and there’s is absolutely nothing wrong with him!

And I absolutely mean that. He is kind, helpful, inquisitive, friendly, cuddly, energetic, generous, inventive, knowledgable, thoughtful. Actually I’m a bit wary of writing a list of adjectives about him, as I’m bound to leave some of his great qualities out. I love him and he’s great. There is nothing wrong with him and I don’t want to change him in any way.

So why all the letters to doctors and conversations with schools?

Because I want to change other people. I want to change the way they behave with him.

Whatever diagnosis he does or doesn’t end up with, I know that he’s not your average child. I mean, every mum thinks their child is extra special, but more than that he certainly seems to think and behave a little differntly from some of his peers.

But different doesn’t mean wrong…

Read the complete post here: http://aisforanxiety.wordpress.com/2014/04/30/expressions-of-posautivity-autismpositivity2014/

Leave a comment

Filed under Autism Positivity 2014, Autism Positivity Flash Blog, Expressions of PosAutivity, Flash Blog Posts

Pizza #AutismPositivity2014

By Amy

My husband and I had planned a beautiful meal. Tom had spent the afternoon smoking a turkey, while I prepared the usual turkey fare of “riced” potatoes with gravy, candied yams, home made bread, and side salads. There was no particular reason for the dinner; we just wanted a nice evening with our son to celebrate family.

Well, after cooking the turkey, my husband’s arms were too full to open the door, so he leaned his elbow against the doorbell to get my attention. Teasingly, I yelled at my husband, “Oh, it must be the pizza man”. So, fast forward about 30 minutes, when myself, my loving husband, and my magnificent, nonverbal, 19 year old son were sitting at this amazing dinner, waiting as my husband carved the turkey.

I had noticed an odd look on my son’s face, but thought nothing of it as I dished out the various side dishes. I placed the plate in front of him and suddenly Zachary started turning bright red.

His arms flung straight out from his body and he began to stim and shake.

Tom and I were in shock, what had set off this very rare, and quite random temper tantrum?

Then, out of nowhere, my son, who’s last words were whispered 5 years early, mustered all he could to scream, “PIZZA!”

I honestly didn’t know if I should send him to his room for the tantrum or hug and praise him for the word.

Zachary is 24 now and we still get strange, food oriented words here and there…salt…pie.

I guess they’re right when they say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.

Leave a comment

Filed under Autism Positivity 2014, Autism Positivity Flash Blog, Expressions of PosAutivity

“The Sun and the Moon” – Expressions of PosAutivity: #AutismPositivity2014

By Erin and her Daughter

My 13 year old daughter wanted to share a second poem for the Autism Positivity Flashblog 2014 – Expressions of PosAutivity. You can find her other poem here, “Down by the Riverside.”

My daughter loves to write poetry and songs as well as draw. She uses art to communicate and express herself. She is also very interested in Science. She wants to go into the field of Environmental Science when she grows up.

The kids and I are also very interested in Astronomy and love laying out in the yard in the summer time just looking up at the night sky. We look for constellations and tell stories about the myths behind them. We also look for satellites, observe the Moon, and watch meteor showers. A few weeks ago, we were watching the first episode of Cosmos with Neil deGrasse Tyson. Cosmos is an amazing show and after we watched the episode my daughter proceeded to write this poem.

 

————————————————————————————————-

March 13, 2014 – Inspired and written after watching the first episode of Cosmos with Neil deGrasse Tyson.

The Sun and the Moon

By: H 

The Sun in day

The Moon in night

We look up at them and wonder 

 

They are different but connected,

In an odd way.

The whole universe is connected in an odd way,

But we don’t understand. 

 

Specifically the Sun is a star of gases

And the Moon is part of the Earth

That was blasted off by collision.

 

 

(Image found at naruhinaph.tumblr.com)

Original post on Geeky Science Mom’s Tumblr: http://geekysciencemom.tumblr.com/post/84206484547/the-sun-and-the-moon-expressions-of-posautivity

Leave a comment

Filed under Autism Positivity 2014, Autism Positivity Flash Blog, Expressions of PosAutivity

Tales From An Autism Family #AutismPositivity2014

By Mandy Klein

April 30th is Autism Positivity Flashblog day and I can’t think right now so I am having trouble coming up with something.  I have too many exciting plans that I can’t talk about yet!
Autism has never meant anything bad to me.  Being autistic is just the way I am.  I was born this way and always will be this way.  It is a way of being.  I like being “a little different”.
I have a lot of anxiety, especially when I am at meetings with other people.  I also struggle to focus when listening to a speaker.  Autism has given me the skill to be able to repetitively draw circles.  I try to draw the perfect circle which of course never happens!  It helps me focus and decrease my anxiety while at meetings and groups.  It may come across as rude to the speaker but it is actually more of a compliment to them since I am trying to focus on them.  I am able to focus the more distractable and anxious part of my brain on my circles while giving the rest of my brain the ability to focus on the speaker.  See, we can multitask!
Once my circles are drawn, I spend hours colouring them.  I try to find just the right colours for each picture.
I have now progressed from just filling a page with circles to actually drawing something and filling it and the rest of the page with circles.  I’m not very skilled at drawing so the designs are simple but neat looking when filled with circles and coloured!

  The old version!
New Version

Original Post at: http://talesfromanautismfamily.blogspot.ca/2014/04/autism-positivity-flashblog-day-2014.html?utm_source=BP_recent

2 Comments

Filed under Autism Positivity 2014, Autism Positivity Flash Blog, Expressions of PosAutivity

Opposite Ends of the Spectrum Expressions of PosAutivity: #AutismPositivity2014

By Joy Y (camelynelayne)

I wrote about this before here but I thought it was worth repeating for the posAutivity flashblog :)

Image

Original post at: http://oppositeendsblog.wordpress.com/2014/04/29/opposite-ends-of-the-spectrum-expressions-of-posautivity-autismpositivity2014/

Leave a comment

Filed under Autism Positivity 2014, Autism Positivity Flash Blog, Expressions of PosAutivity

FRANKENWEENIE: Sparking Connections #AutismPositivity2014

By Antonia Lidder

2e0db-screen-shot-2014-04-21-at-6-45-04-pmWhen your child is diagnosed with autism, it can feel like your world has fallen apart. Last year, when our son Gabriel was three, it happened to us. And though life is extremely hard for us, and much more so for him, he has opened our eyes, minds and souls to magical things in everyday life – like cinema.

Our son is essentially non-verbal, having very few words, and like many with autism he has major difficulties with language, communication and social interaction. We first took him to the cinema when he was two, and a passion was born. In the darkness of the theatre there’s no threat or pressure from neurotypical folk expecting conversation and eye contact. The two-dimensional characters provide a safe way of accessing life experiences: our son can’t seek answers and information as others would by asking questions and sharing fears. The darkness and ‘front focus’ help reduce the constant overwhelming visual input that is part of his life: how can you attend to the ‘thing’ in front of you when your eyes are flooded with hundreds of images every minute from every nook of peripheral vision?

In spring 2012, when he had a vocabulary of approximately 15 words, Gabriel clearly said ‘Sparky’. We were excited that he’d said a word and was undoubtedly trying to communicate with us, yet we had no idea what ‘sparky’ was. We searched our memories and came up blank. Then one day I recalled, ‘Last month we did see a trailer for a Tim Burton film – there was a dog in it called Sparky, but it’s only mentioned a couple of times, and it was so fast, and we’ve only seen it once…’

‘Nah,’ my husband said, ‘can’t be.’

How much we have learnt since.

That one trailer was to seize Gabriel’s imagination like no other. How did we discover that ‘Sparky’ was indeed the endearing dog of Burton’s creation? Gabriel showed us. We went to the cinema and Gabriel ran to a cardboard FRANKENWEENIE placard and spent 45 minutes dancing, babbling, singsonging and beaming in front of it. Over several months we hotly anticipated the release of the film. With every poster, every Disney Store window display, Gabriel turned to us with animation and joy. He began to request ‘Sparky?’ for the trailer and, always, he’d turn to us and exclaim and dance and beam.

One night, having difficulty getting Gabriel to sleep, I sat quietly with him. Thinking he’d finally drifted off, I tiptoed away, only to be stopped in my tracks by the little voice that floated out of the darkness – ‘Something big is gonna happen!’ The moment was eerie and magical; tears filled my eyes and swelled my throat.

Many phrases from FRANKENWEENIE were to follow, and this was before we’d even seen the film! Gabriel made – ‘Turtle, dinosaur’ – a request for us to sketch Shelly the turtle’s transformation into a T-rex like monster. He started to tell us ‘Mr Whiskers had a dream about you last night.’ He learnt new words: bat, monster, sea monkey! And, amazingly, he began to role-play. We’d been told that ‘autistics’ lack imaginary capacity, yet our son took what he saw in the FRANKENWEENIE trailers, and ultimately the film, and began to apply it to his toys: play-sniffing, tracking, chasing cats, even dispensing kisses.

But the biggest moment was yet to come. It wasn’t Gabriel seeing his Sparky birthday cake on his fourth birthday and being utterly transfixed sparky cake– ‘Spaaaaarky!’ It wasn’t going to the cinema three times a week to see FRANKENWEENIE while it was out. It wasn’t him managing to go to nursery for two hours because he had a laminated picture of Sparky in his hand and another in his bag. It was the giant sign he gave us during our first viewing of the film.

We’d spent months digesting, assimilating and loving the FRANKENWEENIE trailers, posters and placards, so we approached the screening with the ecstasy of parents knowing they were giving their child The Greatest Gift Ever. It started brilliantly, Gabriel was spellbound, but then he started to scream and sob… Sparky had been hit by a car.

Tim Burton didn’t show us the car, he didn’t show us the corpse; we saw nothing but Victor’s reaction – a face of fear shouting ‘Sparky! Nooooo!’ And that was the moment that many clinicians and educators were proven wrong. We had been told ‘autistics can’t express empathy and have little or no sense of other,’ yet here, in his distress, Gabriel was clearly showing us otherwise. He has shown us the same countless times since, identifying with a film character to such an extent that even subtle bullying will reduce him to tears. The first screening of a film is always difficult (and this is where Autism-Friendly Screenings are vital), as Gabriel has yet to discover that the character emerges triumphant and safe.

FRANKENWEENIE sparked a magical trajectory for us, showing us the actual potential in our beautiful boy, rather than the deficiency that others perceive in him because he can’t express himself in recognised, neurotypical ways. It also has given us so many moments of unbridled joy and discovery that I don’t have the words to convey their significance in our lives.

Ultimately, FRANKENWEENIE is the tale of a boy who is different, isolated and misunderstood. The boy loses himself in film, and the adults find themselves as he shows them what love really is. In this way, and every other way, FRANKENWEENIE is the film of our lives.

___________________________________________________________

Please note: this post first appeared on the Picturehouse Blog after I was invited to contribute to it-the link to that, which also contains images, is http://picturehouseblog.co.uk/2013/12/05/frankenweenie-sparking-connections/ In addition, it also appears on film director, Tim Burton’s Facebook page-the link to that is
https://www.facebook.com/TimBurton

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Autism Positivity 2014, Autism Positivity Flash Blog, Expressions of PosAutivity

“Strengths of Autism – Resilience” – Expressions of PosAutivity: #AutismPositivity2014

By Erin: Geeky Science Mom

(Image found at http://www.cnn.com)

Resilience. That is an interesting word to say. Resilience. To me, this word holds power and personal meaning. It even feels good in my mouth when I say this word out loud. Resilience. There is just something about this word that gives me strength when I feel I have nothing left to give.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, resilience means “the ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens”. For someone who was not diagnosed with Autism until I was 36 years old, and who has experienced extensive medical and personal life trauma, I have had to have quite a bit of resilience over the years. I had no help or accommodations. I never had an advocate until very recently and I was never taught how to advocate for myself until I discovered my “voice”. Writing is my “voice”, and through the use of my “voice”, I have been expressing the strengths of Autism over the last few weeks since April is Autism Acceptance Month or Autism Awareness Month depending on where you live.

I have written about hyper focusing, hyper awareness, and hyper memory. These traits are all strengths of Autism, but what about resiliency? Lots of people have resiliency, what does this have to do with Autism? In my last three posts about the strengths of Autism I have referred to the strengths as traits of an individual, but resiliency is something that researchers are not quite sure if it is a personality trait that you are born with or if it is something you learn over time.

“Some research suggests that resiliency is a personality trait and cannot so much be acquired or developed, but is merely something someone is born with. Other research, however, provides evidence that perhaps resiliency is a dynamic process, influenced heavily by environment, demographic shifts, and other factors. “- Contributed by Jen Wilson, GoodTherapy.org Correspondent.

Determination, perseverance, and just plain stubbornness combined with the belief that you can’t give up is why I think I have the high level of resiliency that I have. Perhaps for me, resiliency is a personality trait. Perhaps it is something I was born with and has become even stronger over time, but is having resilience really a strength of Autism?

I have been to hell and back again more than once and more times than want to say. These times have been an emotionally, physically, and mentally draining tortuous ride, yet I keep trucking along. How do I keep going like I do? I have been asked this many times over the years and I really can’t answer the question. I don’t know how I can keep going like I do. All I know is that I just do.

Resilience has been described as a muscle, something that gets built up over time. The thought is the more hurt or shock or pain a person experiences at a younger age, the more resilient a person is later in life. I don’t recommend this “stress inoculation”, because this could unquestionably lead to a host of psychological problems and a greater risk of PTSD, but research has shown that there is some truth to this “muscle building” of resiliency.

 

 

Let’s say that you are autistic and you are living in a world that is not designed for you. Let’s say you were not born with a sensory filter and are bombarded by sensory input constantly. Your brain doesn’t know what to ignore, so you notice everything that your senses detect. You experience pain every day from fluorescent lights and the ongoing noises of our busy society. You easily get overwhelmed by smells and tactile sensations.

Let’s say you also have trouble communicating verbally in a way that people will understand you, because of this communication issue, you are perhaps seen as less than a person. You are seen as unintelligent because you communicate differently from the majority of the population. You are seen as “wrong” because you behave differently from what is considered socially acceptable. You are ignored and disregarded because you experience the world differently and react accordingly. Now let’s say you have experienced life like this for as long as you can remember. If you weren’t born with resiliency already, you end up having to build resilience just to survive in a world like this.

I know so many autistic individuals that have developed amazing resiliency. They have had to. Yet, this amazing ability seems to go unnoticed by so many. We understand what is being said about us, even if certain people do not notice that we are listening to their every word. We can read and understand what is being written about us, even though we might not be able to verbally prove this to certain people’s satisfaction. Resilience. We deal with a lot. Many of us crumble under the weight of the stress at some point in our lives, but many of us climb out of that rubble and continue on. That is what resilience is, the ability to keep moving forward despite adversity.

I am an autistic adult and have come so far since I was diagnosed two years ago, but my journey is far from complete and I hope it never ends. There is a saying that a person grows old when they stop learning. I am still growing as a person, still learning, still developing. I may be developmentally delayed, but that hasn’t stopped me from growing as a person. It just may take me longer to reach certain milestones in life.

Resilience – “the ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens”. Lately, bad things seem to keep happening to me, but I pick myself up and keep moving forward. You cannot point to a place in my brain and say that is where the Autism is. Autism is interwoven into everything I am, including my resilience. This is me and all of this are the strengths of Autism.

 

(Image found at http://www.karadedert.com)Original post

 

Original post at: http://geekysciencemom.tumblr.com/post/84284997337/strengths-of-autism-resilience-expressions-of

1 Comment

Filed under Autism Positivity 2014, Autism Positivity Flash Blog, Expressions of PosAutivity

Aidan on Friendship #AutismPositivity2014

By Helen Le Brocq

In the last two months I have had the pleasure of making the acquaintance and friendship of some of the most glorious people I have ever had the privilege to know. And the wonderful thing is that they are all either autistic, neurodiverse, or autism parents. They have shared their insights with me through their own blogs and have taught me so much about what it is to be autistic. They have enriched my life beyond measure with their intelligence, compassion and brilliant writing.
Here I mention the inimitable Brent White, and his blog which you can find here: http://alacosta-acat.org/2014/03/26/he-is-sitting-in-a-chair-a-description-of-friendship/
I mention Alex Forshaw, and her warm and wonderful blog here: http://bjforshaw.wordpress.com/
I mention Renee Salas and the purity of vision she has given me: http://srsalas.com/
And artist, Sonia Boue, who has been my guide and inspiration throughout. Her website and own flash blog you can find here: http://soniaboue.co.uk/section594319.html
This is my first ever blog really and it comes in honour of the Autism Positivity Flash Blog Day 2014. I want simply to add my voice to these many voices that have been inspiring and guiding me. There have also been so many others, it would take me an age to list, and I am so grateful to you all.
I am Helen Le Brocq, I am a proud autism parent and wife. I am Director of OYAP Trust, a youth arts charity based in Oxfordshire, England. I am a theatre practitioner by trade, and I now develop irresistible projects for young people to engage with artists and transform their lives through creativity. My practice is to develop projects that help every young person find and value their own unique creative voice. We often deliver arts projects, especially film and animation, with our young ASC artists; they have always produced work that has been unexpected and full of delight!
So finally and most importantly I want to introduce you to my ten year old son, Aidan Luck. He has atypical Asperger’s and ADHD. He is funny, quirky, adorably affectionate, kind and loving – and it turns out he is very wise! And he is the greatest gift you could ever hope for – I would not change a single thing about him.
I made this short film with him recently for Sonia and Brent, and now I would like to share it on this #AutismPositivity2014 day. It’s his voice that matters, and I add it to help grow acceptance and pride in our autistic children, brothers and sisters.
It’s just a little thing, but I offer it with love.
This is Aidan Luck, also on the subject of friendship.
Screen Shot of Aiden's Film

Screen Shot of Aiden’s Film

 

Here is the link to Aiden’s short film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNveIf_r-7Q

 

Original post at: http://luckyleb.wordpress.com/2014/04/30/expressions-of-posautivity-autismpositivity2014%E2%80%B3/

Leave a comment

Filed under Autism Positivity 2014, Autism Positivity Flash Blog, Expressions of PosAutivity

Cracked Mirror in Shalott Expressions of PosAutivity: #AutismPositivity2014

By Savannah Logsdon-Breakstone

I’m going to try to be really quick about my #AutismPositivity2014 post because I still need to finalize a poetry submission for Barking Sycamores- a poetry journal by and for neurodivergent writers- caption a couple of wonderful presentations, and finish a post for May 1′s #weneeddiversebooks event on twitter and tumblr. 

This April has been rough. Between the negative messaging the public is getting, news of yet more deaths of PwD at the hands of caregivers, missing persons cases, and hearings on both electric shock adversives (FDA’s #JRCHearing) and police brutality against PwD (Senate hearing live tweeted as #EthansHearing) it’s almost unbearable. In times like this, I think that the effort that #AutismPositivity2014 represents becomes especially needed. It can become very easy to allow all the negativity to metaphorically carry you away, and remembering to stop and look at the positivity can serve as an anchor…

 

Read this post in its entirety at: http://crackedmirrorinshalott.wordpress.com/2014/04/29/cracked-mirror-in-shalott-expressions-of-posautivity-autismpositivity2014/

AutismPositivity2014button.jpg

Leave a comment

Filed under Autism Positivity 2014, Autism Positivity Flash Blog, Expressions of PosAutivity

S.R. Salas | Autism Blog: Expressions of PosAutivity #Autism Positivity 2014

 

*****************************

 

The Art of Communication

 

 By Renee Salas:  S.R. Salas | Autism Blog

 

 “Are you lost or incomplete? Do you feel like a puzzle, you can’t find your missing piece? Tell me how you feel. Well, I feel like they’re talking in a language I don’t speak. And they’re talking it to me.”   –  Coldplay

 

I love Coldplay. When I first heard the song ‘Talk’ I felt they had written it for Bas. And not because of the whole “puzzle” mention, I don’t actually go for the puzzle piece/autism thing, but because I wondered: Is that how he feels? Does he feel like we’re talking in a language he doesn’t speak? I mean literally, we do, but how does he feel about that? It’s a conversation I’ve had (one-sided of course) with him since he was probably three years old. I wanted him to know that I would always be there for him as long as he needed me, to help him understand the world in his way, and to make sure he had whatever tools necessary to navigate it. And that at any time if he felt like something was missing, I would help him find it.

 

The funny thing is, the parts others found missing in Bas, I never saw.

 

I go through life living it, being in it, doing my thing, whatever that may be. I find it surreal at times to say I have no real complaints – mainly because at a very young age, I learned I had no room to complain because no matter what, someone always had it harder. At times I might feel slightly guilty because I think to myself how very lucky I am to have the family I do, especially my kids. People have always looked at us, my kids and me, wherever we go. In the past I would feel a slight twinge of pride, which I quashed quickly due to this, because I was sure they were looking at me in envy of my fabulous kids – obviously wishing theirs were half as cool as mine! I have never paid much attention to other people (not in a rude way, but I’m usually otherwise occupied), and once my kids came along my acknowledgement of others lessened further.

 

But that was why people were staring wasn’t it? Envy?

 

 

 

Eyes Wide Open 

 

Merriam-Webster defines communication as a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior.

 

It never occurred to me that not being able to speak was a sad thing, or a bad thing. That people saw my son’s lack of speech as a tragedy – and they felt sorry for him. Even worse, and more peculiar, they felt sorry for me?! These Moms weren’t staring at me in envy, they were staring at me and thanking their lucky stars that they weren’t me. That their kids were “ok.” I was oblivious to the fact that these women saw me as a ‘getting by’ or as ‘surviving as the parent of a child with a disability’ (I’ve heard this phrase before and thankfully can’t relate).

 

My love and hope for my kids, all three of them, and my faith in them as human beings shielded me from the thoughts of others. And that oblivion, my friends, is compounded by the gift of autism. My autistic brain never understood what other Moms meant when they said to me:

 

“I don’t know how you do it.”

 

How I do what? You see being nonspeaking is the way Bas was born, just like every other human being that enters this world. Babies don’t tell us what they want, but they absolutely communicate what they need. And as my son has grown, like other children, he has continually communicated – just not with words. And I have never not known what he wants.

 

So I began to take note…

 

I had always seen the way people look at my kids and me, specifically with Bas. And with the newfound information that people saw my son’s inability to speak as “a shame,” my perception began to change with it. I began to notice as they hugged their kids a little tighter, and if I looked closely enough, I swear I could see them sigh in relief. That last part may be my imagination, but I don’t think I’m too far off the mark. And I didn’t fully get it until I read a quote some time ago from actress Kate Winslet, founder of the Golden Hat Foundation (if you’re not following @KateWinsletGHF you should be!). Ms. Winslet’s daughter asked:

 

“What if I wasn’t able to tell you I love you, mummy?”

 

I was confounded by that question, because the answer was so easy. I felt like raising my hand and saying, “Oh, I know! Pick me! Pick me!” Because my very simple answer would be that you would just show me. And that’s what it’s all about, right?

 

Communication:  Information exchange between individuals.

 

I have never wondered if Bas loves me. Never. He looks at me and I know because he doesn’t look at anyone else that way. But that innocent question, “What if I wasn’t able to tell you I love you, mummy?” spoke volumes to me. I always thought when people commended me on my ‘strength’ and applauded me raising my son (that one still boggles the mind and if you weren’t sure, it’s not a compliment) that they were being nice. Like they were telling me ‘Good Job, Mom!’ not in a sympathetic way but more conversationally, you know like you would say to any Mom: “Your kids are wonderful, what a great job you’re doing!”  When I read Ms. Winslet’s words, the words of her daughter, it opened my eyes a little wider. And then, holy cow I finally got it… These Moms, the very same ones that praised my strength and commended me for raising my son, actually meant what they were saying to me.

 

They were not looking at me with envy they were looking upon me with pity! They were relieved they were not me!!

 

I am so glad Ms. Winslet shared the lovely exchange she had with her daughter, it’s important. It gives me an idea of what non-autistic people might be thinking when they look at us together. I’m not in the least bit offended. I understand they might feel this way because they don’t know. Parents may sigh in relief and count their blessings because they are imagining how they might feel if their child could no longer speak and if their child was Autistic. But they can’t really do that because it’s not the same. They are trying to imagine a child that never existed. These parents imagine a part of their child - the ability to communicate with words - being taken away and I will agree that sounds scary.

 

But you see Bas never lost his speech, because he never had it to lose.

 

In return there is something I can’t imagine: My son talking. He is 11 years old and I have never had a conversation, verbal or typed, with him. Am I sad? Not in the least. You see, I can’t imagine a speaking, non-Autistic 11 year-old Bas because that child never existed. Do I wish this imaginary boy did? NO. WAY. And why is that? Let me quote myself here because it’s really, really important:

 

“… the parts others found missing in Bas, I never saw.

 

As I said I have never had a conversation with my son, verbal or typed, but we’ve been connecting since the day he was born. Bas has communicated since the beginning with his eyes, his expressions, his body and with behaviors and emotions. He is learning to use assistive technology (iPad) to communicate, and some language but it’s extremely difficult for him. If you met us on the street and spoke to him, you most likely would not understand a word he said to you, and that’s if he chose to speak at all. Not because he’s rude, but because verbal communication is hard. It takes more time for him to process than most people are willing to spend with him. And the assumption is that because he cannot speak, he doesn’t understand. Let me assure you folks, he most certainly does. And that got me thinking about a quote I’d seen in a number of places that read:

 

“Just because I am unable to speak does not mean I have nothing to say.”

 

And honestly, I grew up believing false assumptions such as non-speaking people not having a thing to say, and I talked about that here. Learning I was completely incorrect in that is yet another instance in my life I thankfully embraced my wrongness and learned from it, and I talked about that here. I happily own that loss of ignorance (gratefully educated in these instances by disabled people themselves) and will share lessons learned from it again and again if it will help even one person realize the damage that way of thinking causes. I’ve seen it firsthand with my son and with my many disabled friends.

 

Having a nonspeaking child as well as a daughter (and myself) who experience nonverbal episodes, I can assure you we absolutely have something to say.

 

 

 

Can You Miss Something You Never Had?

 

Bas has never shown sadness, frustration or anger at not being able to talk. He’s a seriously happy kid. Does he get aggravated when people don’t understand him? Well, yeah, but don’t you? When he does become frustrated, I’m willing to believe the aggravation is directed more toward the person’s inability to understand him than at himself for not being able to speak. Because for Bas, speech has never been a natural form of communication.  We don’t emphasize or focus on his lack of speech. We talk to him (just like we do our other two kids) and use whatever form of communication - gestures, pictures, typing, body language - that gets the point across.

 

We have to learn to “listen” to more than just spoken language.

 

My hopes for my son do not hinge on whether or not he will be a savvy conversationalist or a non-speaker that uses assistive technology. I have no way of knowing whether or not he will even choose speech as his primary form of communication. Whatever his choice, it’s important to share that Bas is understood in so many ways: His gestures and body language; through some verbal exchanges; and with gentle touches and pressure point squeezes; and with his iPad; and, my favorite, with kisses and smiles. He will get what he wants and what he needs because without speech Bas, in his very own way, has perfected:

 

 

The Art of Communication

 

 

#AutismPositivity2014Flashblog

Visit the original post by Renee Salas at

http://srsalas.com/?p=3981

Leave a comment

Filed under Autism Positivity 2014, Autism Positivity Flash Blog, Expressions of PosAutivity