Having an autistic child is not the end of the world--far from it. It is my hope that through this blog, at least a handful of people will get to understand that. My child is amazing, she brings us tremendous joy. We have good days & bad days, but we CHOOSE to focus on the good. Our belief is that by loving our daughter, giving her the most comfortable environment we can, and by most of all accepting her differences, she will continue to blossom--in her OWN way.

10/6/07

Communication: More Than Just Spoken Words!

"Not being able to speak is not the same thing as having nothing to say."

I really wish everyone would read this quote & really take the time to understand and accept it. I'm saddened by the amount of parents I come in contact with who are desperately hopeless because their child is nonverbal. They presume therefore all sorts of terrible things. One is that their child is not capable of much, including ideas or opinions. The other is that their child will ultimately be institutionalized. Another is that their child is unaware of what's going on around them, what is said about them, and also what is written about them.

So many people honestly think that if someone cannot speak, then there is nothing go on inside. They also assume that if someone walks around grunting or stimming or twitching, that they can't possibly be thinking of much. So many of these parents are tragically ignorant, and most aren't willing to open their eyes to this. They would prefer, I think, there not be a possibility that their child or the autistic adult is capable of higher thinking.

I hear time & time again, parents saying "if only I could hear him say 'mama'" or "it breaks my heart that she won't say 'I love you.'" I feel for them, I do. Before my daughter had words, I remember falling into that belief, that if she couldn't speak or say "mommy" that we just wouldn't be able to connect. Our neurologist is amazing & early on, he recommended sign language. We used sign language & picture cards. I yearned to hear my daughter say "ma." I thought that would be the most amazing thing. I was wrong. The day my daughter signed "daddy" was one of the most wonderful things ever. A few weeks later, she would sign "mommy" and then further down the road, it was "I love you." Seeing those signs, that was so beautiful. Those personal experiences, really made a permanent impression in my mind on this whole nonverbal issue. Being nonverbal, does not mean a child or adult doesn't have thoughts, feelings, or desires.

Parents are so close-minded to what communication really means. Often, they seem to take personal offense if their child cannot verbally communicate. They feel a 'normal' parent-child bond or connection can never be achieved because of this. Verbal speech is not the end all be all for communication--far from it. In this day in age, with technology, the options are seemingly endless. PECS cards, ASL, laptops, writing boards, etc. While our daughter is now verbal, she still uses PECS & signs, and I imagine when she gets a bit older, she'll use typing quite often too, as a form of communication. I'm excited for that. Speaking is very difficult for her, she tires easily, and is often very hard to understand. So, I'm excited for when she will have yet another option for communication, and I can't wait to 'hear' all she has to 'say.'

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