Monthly Archives :

February 2018

Autism Q&A

Communication In The Younger Years

560 315 Sam Radbil

Welcome to the 2018 series of the Louden on Autism Q & A . As many of you know, I receive questions every day, and I want to make sure that the answers to these important questions are being shared with all of you.

 

Please know that these are my opinions and my answers come from my research and my own personal experiences. Of course, each situation is different. All of us as people are different. And no two people with or without autism should be treated the same exact way.

 

This week, I received a question about communication in the early years. This is a very common question, so I thought I’d share my feelings in a post.

 

QUESTION

 

Was It hard to communicate at 2 years of age? My two year old seems to be sensory seeking and can talk, knows a lot of information. But he is very sensitive and struggles to use words. How does he feel in his mind? I just want to understand him better. I think he’s going to be a genius. Truly. I just want to foster what he’s capable of doing. Please advise!

 

ANSWER

 

Communication can be challenging at all ages with autism. I was particularly verbal and a young age, but that’s not the same as being communicative. Communication is more than just “saying words” and often those of us on the spectrum don’t communicate easily with those around us.

 

I would advise you to try to foster what skills he has already developed. Work to focus on encouraging general communication in ways he’s comfortable with, and worry about specific types (verbal, emotional) as it comes and goes. Focusing on types of communication that they might find uncomfortable or hard, or before growing a strong desire for communication, can encourage withdrawal. Why work on learning to do something you find uncomfortable and don’t find value in? Foster the value first, and the desire for skills can grow from that.

 

I always try to encourage people to play the long game. Don’t force someone to do something that “you” think is better for them this minute, because you “think” it might be the best way to handle a situation. But, instead, think about development over time and what is best for a person, a family, and the general life overall in the long term picture.

 

Overall, my best advice is to remember that for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, communication development happens differently and more slowly. Because of the sensory challenges associated with the disorder, children with autism might seem more interested in environmental sounds, like the whirring of a fan or vacuum than in the sound of people talking. They may seem distracted or even seem not to hear what people say. But in the end, let the child learn to develop on their own time and at their own pace. I surely think it will help them improve in all areas.

 

Thanks for reading. Check back soon for another Q&A.

Autism Q&A

What About Sign Language?

560 315 Paul Louden

Welcome to the 2018 series of the Louden on Autism Q & A . As many of you know, I receive questions every day, and I want to make sure that the answers to these important questions are being shared with all of you.

 

Please know that these are my opinions and my answers come from my research and my own personal experiences. Of course, each situation is different. All of us as people are different. And no two people with or without autism should be treated the same exact way.

 

This week, I received a question from a mother of a child who is autistic and non-verbal. She was wondering whether or not sign language is a good alternative, since she is losing hope about verbal possibilities.

 

QUESTION

 

I found your book very informative, especially since I have a 5 year old song who is non-verbal. I’m worried that he isn’t showing any signs of speaking, and even though he is young, I have a feeling this might be a long-term issue. Do you have any advice on whether or not sign language is a good alternative? 

 

ANSWER

 

I’ve heard many parents tell stories of their non-verbal children progressing to language eventually, under differing circumstances. I think it’s important to give it time and understand that each child or person learns at their own speed when it come to becoming verbal.

 

Sometimes it’s through work with a BCBA or OT, other times it’s just as they grow up and become more comfortable with life itself. It could always be a trust and comfort issue. There are also others who find speech to be overwhelming, but use alternatives, as you referenced in your question.

 

Among them is sign language, as you mentioned. There are also tools and apps that allow someone to press pictures or words, and have them spoken. This could be a great learning tool for your son. Alternatively, some people just go with writing. It’s such a classic way of communicating, that I think we often forget how easily it can be used.

 

There’s a wide range of possibilities, but at the age of five there’s still the very real possibility that it’s a delay and that language may be developing slowly but may still develop. This is all anecdotal of course, people I’ve met or stories I’ve heard. You’d really need to consult with someone like a speech therapist to dive into investigating what kind of delays he’s experiencing and whether it warrants certain actions to attempt to address it. But don’t give up hope! He is so young and impressionable that speech might one day come very easily.

 

Thanks for reading. Check back soon for another Q&A.

Autism Q&A

Grandparents and Discipline

560 315 Sam Radbil

Welcome to the 2018 series of the Louden on Autism Q & A . As many of you know, I receive questions every day, and I want to make sure that the answers to these important questions are being shared with all of you.

 

Please know that these are my opinions and my answers come from my research and my own personal experiences. Of course, each situation is different. All of us as people are different. And no two people with or without autism should be treated the same exact way.

 

This week, I received a question from grandparents of a child who is autistic. They were wondering how they can come across as loving, but still remain firm and provide discipline for their grandchild.

 

QUESTION

 

How do grandparents handle and come across as loving yet firm in handling verbal discipline? Our grandchild just goes home and berates us to Mom and Dad and then over and over again we are in the doghouse. What’s a grandparent to do?  

 

ANSWER

 

This is a really hard question to provide good help with. For one thing, I’ve seen many times where a parent or grandparent is absolutely positive that a child is acting intentionally defiant, and knows what he’s doing, when the reality is he doesn’t. Of course, I’ve seen other times where he does.

 

What this usually indicates is a general breakdown of trust. Whether or not the child is being intentional, they’ll recognize that you don’t trust them anymore, and it makes it much, much harder to get to the bottom of where the real problem is, whatever it may be.

 

Unfortunately, with autism, simple discipline often just isn’t effective. In a world that’s scary and challenging, it can be really hard to distinguish between “deserved discipline” and “undeserved distress.” So discipline ends up not having the desire expected, and instead just makes the trust gap worsen.



The reality is that it’s sometimes important just to accept that things have gotten off the right track, and that you may have to let go of traditional ideas about how to straighten out a problematic child. What you may be looking for now are ways to rebuild the trust, so that you can have a conversation *with* the child about acceptable behavior, rather than trying to enforce it with someone who isn’t really able to internalize guidance in that form.

 

Just always try to remember that not every situation is the same. So even though I can provide advice about my experiences and the experiences that I’ve heard of and studied, each scenario and life situation will be vastly different. Give it time and see what works best for you!

 

Thanks for reading. Check back soon for another Q&A.