Give Me a Sign- Expressions of PosAutivity: #AutismPositivity2014

By The Introverted Matriarch

#AutismPositivity2014FlashblogI have been thinking about doing an Autism Positivity blog post entry  for a few days. I kept drawing a blank on what to write about, so I was unsure if I would participate. Then, I read last night that this year’s suggested theme is communication, and expression. This new info reminded me of a post that I have been thinking about writing for awhile. I hesitated, because I don’t know if many will think it’s positive. I don’t know how it will be received by others in the autism community, especially those that don’t typically follow my blog who don’t know our story. Then, I remembered how much I tend to care about people who don’t know my story who want to lend judgment on how I should express myself. I have no cares to give about those opinions. While speaking about the themes being self expression,and communication style of people with autism I can safely say this blog is how I express so much of my inner self. The people that follow me here know me more authentically than anyone I know in real life who has never read my writing (save maybe a couple people), so I do myself a disservice when I censor my writing to fit  what I think others want to read.

As most of you know I have a 10 year old profoundly autistic son named Beans. He is nonverbal. For years, the school, and private speech tried to teach him to use Picture Communication Symbols, or PECs for short. We tried the symbols, the actual pictures, and even objects. We tried devices, and differing methods all the while Beans became more, and more irate while virtually not improving in any of the methods, at all. As we all know, behavior is communication. It didn’t take me very long to decipher what he was upset about. Life is confusing, and overwhelming for him as it is, but imagine being asked to participate in an activity for 7 years that made no sense to you, everyday. You were asked to point at random pictures, and not allowed to do anything until you did. This activity would follow you from eating to playing. Always that book of pictures. I often wondered what they looked like to him. Were they just colorful pieces of laminated paper? How did he feel when he saw that book come out day after day? He melted down more frequently, and his communication had not improved any measurable amount in that seven years. We had some of the best service providers in the country teaching him to use the book in private speech, and public school. No, to little improvement was a clear indication this was not working for him. The meltdowns from frustration was a clear sign to me that he does not learn this way.

I didn’t know the struggle that lay ahead of me in getting professionals on board to use another method. It was such a shocking, and sobering experience to me to be completely shot down when I went to explain to them that my son has not improved in seven years using PECs, or other communication methods like it. We need to try a new, completely different method. Not only would they not try, but they insisted I was wrong. This is the go-to method for nonverbal student, they said. He will get it, but it might take more time, they insisted.

I stood my ground. They had time. Seven years is a long time. I stamped my feet, and I dug my heels in. I know my son. He doesn’t understand PECs. He doesn’t think in pictures. He needs to learn another way. Just because it is not conventional does not mean it can’t be done…

Read the rest of this post at The Introverted Matriarch:


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

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