Thursday, December 20, 2012

Learning the language -autism speak

Recently, we have come to the conclusion that Andrew can understand much more than we had realized and in fact tunes in to our conversations regularly. His eye contact tells us that he IS listening and tuning in. This is a new event, since in the past he did not make eye contact,  nor did he appear to tune in, but instead seemed to shut everything out.

We see this need for shutting people, noises and the world out by the use of planned "eye closing."  He will purposely shut his eyes to block out those things that are stressful to him or overwhelming.  He will then peek out when he feels ready to accept the challenge offered.

I have felt that way myself at an extremely noisy event or over stimulating colors, noises and just plain masses of sounds and sights.  I feel the need to step back a bit and observe from a distance before I plunge right in.  I eventually get there, but I usually do not dive in but take a leisurely stroll instead... maybe that helps me understand his need for eye shutting as a blocker.  

This intentional "eye shutting" is an effective way to shut down stimuli or just decrease and stay present in the task or place.

We have also noted that the introduction of new, interesting tasks brings about "eye opening" and attentiveness which leads us to believe the simple theory that interesting things, stimulating tasks bring about an ability to get past the desire to block out stimuli and to engage.

The reality being that stimulating, interesting activities can block the need to escape. and in fact cross out the escape and cause attentiveness.

We introduced days of the week into the calendar to allow him more choice in the jobs he does and on what days he does them, allowing him, like a regular worker to have a sense of what lies ahead.

We are going to introduce soon a  more complex calendar that will allow more choice and flexibility. We learn, he teaches us - we listen - he speaks sometimes not in words but surely in his actions and reactions - he lets us know what works for him and what does not with an ever changing challenge of keeping up with not only a complex person with autism, but a complex person with autism and who is also a perplexing teenager!  Two strikes against us grown up humans...

We are evolving!  We are learning!


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