Thursday, August 23, 2018

All Communication is Valid

I recently saw more comments from parents or caregivers bemoaning the fact that their non speaking child “can’t even tell me if they are happy or sad” 

This is a frequent complaint from parents who are stuck on verbal speech as *better* or employing the “Not Like My Child” trope used against autistic advocates who type online.  See also the “different types of autism” myth. 

Everyone communicates.  Absolutely everyone.  My son is non speaking but he communicates all the time without saying a word. 

- He brings me to the fridge or the pantry when he is hungry. I then offer things he usually likes until i get the right one 
- He hands me his water cup and I fill or refill it 
- He will clench his legs tightly if I am not using his super soft clothes (all his clothes are soft , but we have a hierarchy and sometimes the favored ones are in the wash) He makes it so that I can’t dress him until the right ones are used.  Then he relaxes his legs to be dressed.  
- He will pull my bag down when he wants to go someplace (figuring out where is still a work in progress)
- He will climb into his stroller when he wants to sit in it or leave 
- He climbs in the bathtub if he wants to play in the water 
- He uses different pitches to indicate happiness or dissatisfaction. 
- He cries in different volumes and types, depending on what he needs 
- He pushes me away firmly with his feet when he wants space on the couch or the floor 
- He puts my hand on a book or toy he wants 
- He throws a blanket on himself he wants to play this hiding game we do. 
- He asks his sister for things by doing many of the above  

There are many more examples I could give for how O communicates without words or letter sounds.  He is *not* non- verbal.  

It’s not a perfect system and I definitely get it wrong plenty of times. I am not a mind reader. His voice is his own. But he is telling me things all day. Asking for them.  Expressing consent or refusal to do things.   Showing preferences.  

We respect O’s right to autonomy and to communicate his way.   We love him unconditionally and accept him wholly as he is.  No form of communication is better than another. That is ableism.  

People can communicate through:

American Sign language 
Eye gaze 
Blinking 
Noises
Pitch
Movement  
iPad apps
Leading someone by the hand
Spelling

And many, many more methods that may or may not involve any amount of spoken language. 

There are infinite ways for any person to communicate.  The question is- are you paying attention? 


(Pictured is Owen with turkey bacon and pan)

Monday, December 4, 2017

Stop pathologizing Disabled Lives

Do people see how nearly everything disabled people do is shoved through a pathology and “fixing lens”

- Disabled kids can’t just scramble an egg. It’s going on IG. #LifeSkills

- disabled people don’t ride horses. It’s “equine therapy”

- disabled people don’t paint. It’s “art therapy”

- if your autistic child likes music, someone will suggest “music therapy”. (Because you can’t just listen to music when you are autistic *eyeroll*)

- a group of Disabled people can’t go to the mall without it being called a “community outing”

- autistic people can’t change their tastes without the “age appropriate” aspect being mentioned

- your child have a favorite toy? Most therapists will want to use that as currency during their interactions. Prepare to earn it back doing repetitive work while someone keeps score.

News alert - Disabled people can cook, wash a dish, shop and do a zillion other things without some type of therapy or life skill goal associated with it. Things can be taught without gross ableism being a part of it and no, not everything has to be some learning experience. A trip to the mall is usually **just** a trip to the mall. (And a lot of sensory overload but I digress)

We can swim, paint, play music and a million other things without a therapy spin to it. When NT people do these things, it’s just art/ horseback riding / swimming/ making dinner. Stop pathologizing our lives and let us have hobbies and do things without using them in a therapy aspect.

We will get along a lot better when you stop constantly seeing us as people with a list of deficits who need to be fixed, taught, corrected and robbed of real, everyday experiences.

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*before everyone comments, I understand some disabled people love these activities. I’m saying let us decide what we do with our free time and not take the option of it being simply “an activity we like” away from us by making it goal based.

All Communication is Valid

I recently saw more comments from parents or caregivers bemoaning the fact that their non speaking child “can’t even tell me if they are ha...