My grandson is 11yrs old. He understands me perfectly when I speak to him. But he is non verbal. He hasn't been taught sign language or anything like that. Doesn't carry a laptop to type anything. He gets mad when I cant figure out what he wants or needs. He doesn't live with me but visits me every other weekend. I feel so frustrated. Then I start to think how he must feel. Is this typical with non verbal autistic children to not teach them any way to communicate
With a nonverbal child , it’s important to give your child a choice. You find every means to give that child language . I chose sign language first. Why? It’s part of his body. Portable. The deaf community is strong and powerful and he would have a community if he chose that as his only means of conversation. However when I signed. I spoke. I also used pecs and I used pictures all over the house. We acted out things , lots of books. We drew things. We worked on imitation first. He must learn to imitate. Touching parts of body. Imitation of actions. Like jump, hop etc. then slowly showed him asl alphabet, numbers, colors , animals to imitate always voicing . Physical prompt first , then fade. All these opened the doors to get him to imitate and learn sounds , then words, then sentences. He is fully functional conversational now.
I want to thank you for sharing with us, both you and your parent. It is so important for people to understand just what helps or hinders a child with Autism. I would like to encourage more adults and children to speak out.
Except from an article by William Stillman who is the award-winning author of 10 autism and special needs parenting books.
Please be very cautious in teaching sign language as the foremost mode of communication. Sign language is not universally understood in our communities, so fluency outside a small circle of supporters is not possible. Additionally, service providers that promote sign language as an exclusive mode of communication have an obligation, despite staff turnover, to ensure that all workers are as proficient in its use as the very person being supported. However, if the individual has a history with family and friends of using some select signs, please preserve this because it’s familiar and it’s working.
I have a almost 16 year old son and we have tried every communication technique under the sun and nothing has been successful yet. He does not imitate which is essential to learn sign language. We have tried pecs and were not successful. Now we are trying the iPad. Don't get frustrated with your grandson. Be patient. The two of you will work out a form of communication. Just follow his lead.
If he is in a special education program the parent needs to specify that a communication goal be added to his IEP. You can specify what type of device is to be used, whether computer, communication/picture board, sign language, etc.. The goal is to be written in detail. The parent is not obligated to sign the IEP until they approve of the plan for their child.
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