Life, Autism, Disability, and More

Tag Archives: communication

baseball uniform*I might be the only one who remembers hearing this when growing up, so a quick explanation:
Little pitchers have big ears refers to the fact that adults must be careful about what they say within the hearing of children. The saying refers to the large handles (ears) sometimes attached to small vessels.

Now that I’ve forced that random knowledge on you…

Lately, I’ve been trying more and more to get Simon interested in average discussions and conversations. He doesn’t seem to be very interested in communicating more than his needs and wants, but I can’t help but believe that there are plenty of other things he could say if he could figure out how. When we go places in the car, and he’s stuck as my captive audience, I start trying to get him to have a conversation. I’ll ask what color the sky is, and if it’s grey, then I’ll ask him what he thinks that means. Questions like that are easy ones for him to memorize, though, so then I start asking harder questions, questions about what he thinks about and what he sees out the window.

One Saturday morning, he had a baseball game, and that afternoon, I took him to Target.  While we were in the car, I asked him what he was good at.

He said baseball.

I asked what else.

He said math.

I asked what else.

He said basketball.

It was a pretty nice list of things for such an abstract question.  

We went into Target and Starbucks (it’s an addiction! Don’t judge me!), and I told him he was good because he helped push the cart and waited patiently while it took forever for the barista to make my coffee.

When we got home, I thought I’d try to continue the conversation and pull Dad into it.

I asked the question again, and this time he began with baseball, but then said he was good at Logan’s (the restaurant where we ate lunch after the game and where we told him he did good at ordering his own food and then waiting for it to come to the table), and then he said he was also good at Target and Starbucks.

After he had added those in, he went back to the original list including math and basketball.

The point had been made.

Just because he’s a teenager who doesn’t say a lot, he definitely listens and learns. And he has huge ears. 

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As I might have mentioned in the previous post, Simon wants to go to ESY (Extended School Year for those not in the know).

He really wants to go to ESY.

He really, really wants to go to ESY.

For the most part, he’s calmed down. But he checks the calendar and asks about it every day.

And he likes me to write about it.

Normally when he asks me to write things down, we wind up filling up a page with repeated sentences.

Sometimes they fall into particular patterns, like if he gets anxious about dad not being home. Then we have a rote way of handling it that includes repetition of “Dad is at work. Dad will be home at dinner time. We will wait for Dad. We won’t cry for Dad.” That goes on for as long as it has to until he calms himself down.

This time, though, he wanted me to write something down, and then he told me that “Mom said it.” What I said was that there was no school. I decided to be clever, so I put a word bubble around it, and then drew myself. Poorly.

He liked it, though, and then he said, “Mom, there’s no school.” And he pointed at the page.

I wrote it down, word-bubbled it, and drew him.

cartooning

As you can see, from there, he had a lot of fun telling me what to write. I had to stop him when the page ran out of space, but by then he had calmed down and was doing okay again.

I may not be the most talented of artists, but I’m good enough to make Simon happy, and since he’s my only audience (other than you fools who are reading this), I think I’ve hit my market.


simon on a couch

This has nothing to do with this blog. We just went and sat on furniture because he likes to, and I took this picture and liked it.

In under a month, Simon turns 15.

Horrifying, isn’t it?

He will be firmly in teenage-hood, and, come the fall, he’ll be in high school.

I meant terrifying, not horrifying.

But that’s the scary news. Now for the awesome news:

Simon explained why he was stimming and how he was feeling.

For those who don’t know what stimming is, or why you should not stop a person from doing it, here’s a quick explanation. Stimming (self-stimulating behavior) is what a number of people on the spectrum do. It’s what a lot of people might call “hand flapping,“ or it can be any number of other behaviors that help the person to calm themselves or express themselves. You shouldn’t stop it because, well, it’s a person calming themselves or expressing themselves. (Go read this now. And be prepared to cry.)

Back to the story…

We went out to Logan’s Steakhouse. They serve grilled cheese, a veggie plate, and steaks, so they meet all our requirements for going out. They even have free peanuts.

We were waiting for our meals to come out, and Simon was stimming. He was sitting in the corner of the booth, flapping his hands, and moving his head. And smiling.

“Why are you doing that?” I asked him, not actually expecting an answer, but asking because I always try anyway.

“I’m happy,” he said.

Wait. What? He said he was happy?

“Why are you happy?” I asked, pushing my luck.

He didn’t say anything for a minute. Just kept flapping and smiling.

“I like Logan’s,” he said.

Wow.

First off, I can know with some degree of certainty that he does actually know why he stims, and he’s doing it on purpose. Second, I know that he really does like going out to eat there. I was pretty sure of that second thing already since he asks to go whenever we go buy our comics – I have no idea why he has put that connection there, but he has, and it’s awful hard to say no when you’re tired and don’t feel like cooking.

So, the next time you think about telling a person who stims to stop it or to have “quiet hands,” shut up instead.


What Is EcholaliaA few days ago, we were at the comic book store, and Simon came up to me.

“Should we give the Indians food?” he asked.

For those who don’t know it, he was referring to the really horrible (and really funny, but not in the way they intended) Charlie Brown Mayflower episode.

“Yes, we should feed the Indians. Otherwise they’ll be hungry, right?” I said. I always respond to Simon’s echolalia because…well, why not?

He looked at me like I was an idiot and repeated himself, “Should we give the Indians food?”

I stopped and looked at him.

“Do *you* want food?” I asked.

He nodded. “Yes.”

Score: One for Simon, zero for mom.

This is why echolalia can be so valuable. Simon might not know how to come up to me and tell me that he wants to get food, but he can provide lines from a show that gets to it in a round-about way. And I’m good with that.

Yes, I’d love Simon to be able to communicate perfectly. I’d love for his communication to even be at a four-year-old level where he could straight out say, “Hey, I’m hungry!” But that isn’t happening yet, and that’s okay. At least we’ve been moving in the right direction.

So to everyone who thinks that echolalia is pointless or annoying, I want you to consider all the times that you’ve quoted song lyrics or the Simpsons to get your purpose across. It’s just another form of communication.

 

Charlie Brown Mayflower episode for your viewing pleasure (or pain):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4PZE6SNIIr8

 


subliminal_animationFor the uninitiated into the secret language of special needs education, ESY is Extended School Year. So far, Simon has qualified for it every year.

To qualify, your child must show significant regression linked to long breaks, and there must be significant recoupment. Of course, this means some school districts make up data/rules, but we’re in a good system that actually uses real data and rules. But I digress…

The thing is, Simon *loves* going to ESY. He loves school anyway, so it’s not surprising that he’d like ESY since there are less kids, and he gets a lot of attention. On top of that, he still gets to ride the bus twice a day. It’s like heaven for him.

The only problem we have with ESY is it often has a lot less communication between the teachers/parents. Part of the issue is because ESY has shortened days, and it’s only four days a week. It often gets scheduled rather last minute because of the need for current data, and that can also make it more difficult to know who the teacher will be ahead of time. Add those factors the fact the district itself is on reduced hours and there isn’t always too much staff around in the school itself to answer phones.

Now, I say all that, but I do know how to contact people, and it’s not like we never hear from anyone. I’m just saying there’s less communication.

Which is why I’m wondering what, exactly, they have been teaching Simon over the summer.

I ask that because this morning I woke up to Simon sitting on the bed next to me, whispering, “We’re going to HEB,” over and over again. Quiet. Deliberate. Convincing.

I think they may have been teaching him how to use subliminal messages.

Oh, and do you need anything from the store? Because we’re heading out to HEB in a few minutes…

(Oh, and thanks to http://gifmaker.me/ for making the animated gif process quick and easy!)