Freedom From Autism

No. My son has not been “cured” of Autism.  But for one night, for one single solitary night I felt free from the constantly overwhelming disorder.

 

It was Autism Family Night at the Mystic Aquarium in Mystic CT.  We got into the Aquarium for free (thank you Pfizer and Mystic) and got to see two shows specially prepared with less sensory stimulation.
Almost instantly, I got chills and a huge smile came across my face as Jaylen:
ran off,
started banging on glass tanks,
groaning,
and yelling repeated phrases of other kids
 
I did NOT have to stop him. 
 
He was free,
I was free,
There would be no yelling,
No arguing,
No threats,
No apologies to other people,
And no embarrassment tonight.
 
And THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is freedom. 
No where else, at no other time, is it acceptable for my guy to be who he is.  It was the most amazing, liberating, and happy feeling. 
Both my boys ran, yelled, and acted silly.  And no one batted an eye.
I didn’t have to feel bad or sorry.  I didn’t have to apologize to anyone because of their noise or running.
I didn’t have to explain to other parents why my son was doing what he was doing.  He got in other kids faces, a recent issue we’ve been having, and no one cared.  In fact, many other kids were doing it too.  I didn’t have to explain why he repeated things other kids said or yelled when they yelled or apologize for it.  Everyone understood.
It was also such an eye opener to see so many kids and adults all over the spectrum.  Everyone is affected in different ways.  But generally speaking, they all have issues that set them apart from the “norms” of society.
At one point my sister turned to me and said, “It’s just crazy to me that everyone else here, all these other parents, are dealing with the same things you are.  You are all going through this daily.  They are all going through what you do every day.”

And for some reason, that makes me cry.  Each time I replay that thought, I cry.

I am Published!

If you buy this book, which you really should, go to page 179 (total coincidence that is my birth month and year January 1979) and read “The Suspense is Killing Me!”  Yes, that’s right, my work in a published book.

Wit and Wisdom is perfect for any parents of special needs kids, especially those on the spectrum.  Parents of newly diagnosed kids will find this different than every other Autism book out there.  What we have is a compilation of essays from some of the best storytellers I know, who also happen to be parents of kids on the spectrum.  Teachers, therapists, educators, and anyone else who works with kids with Autism will get joy, understanding, and information from this book.

So where can you get your copy?  At Amazon or just click on the link right there to the right.

Thank you to my good friends Lynn and Big Daddy for putting this together!  What an awesome project.

Also, I was recently hired to be somewhat of a reporter for a local news website.  So far, I haven’t begun, but I will be taking on assignments soon.  I will definitely provide links once I start!

Introducing Sign Language Focusing on Autism

I am very excited to introduce a guest post for today.  When Jaylen was non verbal at the age of a year we started using some simple signs.  As he got older, yet still couldn’t communicate verbally, we had to use signing as our only means of communication.  Using signs helped reduce the number of massive tantrums he was having several times a day due to his inability to process what we were saying and verbalize his wants and needs.  Whether you are new to signing with children, or you have done some in the past, you will find Misty’s post informative and convincing.

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One of the most frustrating things about autism is the difficulties around communication. The complexities of spoken language can be problematic for children with autism, leading to frustration for both child and parent. Sign language acts as a bridge for communication that strengthens the development of speech and language. Learning sign language at any age provides lots of benefits for children with autism.

Development Of Speech And Language
While spoken language is still developing, all babies and young children find gestures and symbols easier to understand than speech. Pictures and gestures switch on areas of the brain that are inactive without spoken language. Gestures create ‘visual associations’, which are easier for children with autism to learn and understand. In this way, sign language doesn’t replace speech, but acts as a pathway to its development.

Tantrums And Anxiety
Children with autism sometimes display negative behaviors such as tantrums, anxiety and aggression. In all children, these behaviors are much worse when a child can’t communicate what he needs. Sign language gives children a tool for communication, reducing the frustration that children with autism feel if they can’t express themselves. Sign language reduces frustration-based behavior by removing some of the frustration.

Social Interaction And Sign Language
One of the great things about sign language is that it provides a communication tool for children with autism. This is great for the child but it is also wonderful for the parent. Communication is a two way process, so signing also gives parents a useful tool. Communication is a positive spiral – when a child communicates successfully and feels understood he has the confidence to try again. Confidence in the ability to communicate is essential for good social interactions.

Teaching Sign Language To Children With Autism
Sign language is a wonderful tool for children with autism, and for their families and teachers. There are difficulties, however. Let’s look at some of these and how they can be overcome…

Focus  And Attention
Because sign language is primarily a visual type of communication it requires the ability to focus intensely for significant periods. In some cases, children with autism have attention deficits which can prevent sign language from being taught successfully. Even in these situations, sign language can be used as part of a package of communication skills, providing the emphasis is on understanding being signed to, not necessarily signing back.

Isolation
Depending on where in the world you live, sign language may or may not be a well-known form of communication. In some parts of the world, although sign language is beneficial to a child with autism it could isolate him from those who do not know sign language. It’s best to encourage all of those who have regular contact with your child to learn a few important signs, including family, friends and teachers.

Unique Benefits
We know that autism affects each child in a unique way. There is no one right way to proceed when improving communication. The benefits of sign language will be unique to each child. In a few severe cases sign language may not be as helpful as it is to others. It has, however, proved helpful to many families, and must be worth a try.

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This guest post is brought to you by Baby Sign Language. We are here to help answer all your Baby Signing questions. Be sure to also check out the FREE Baby Sign Language Flash Cards.