autismmumsdads

Archive for the ‘Speech’ Category

I really wanted to share with you all the fact that yesterday I was informed that my 3 and a half year old Autistic Son, who is non-verbal will be discharged from the Speech & Language Therapy Department, after NO therapy.

The reasons why haven’t been disclosed but i will be demanding answers as to why his speech therapist – and I use that term loosely, deems his speech and language satisfactory enough to not be pursuing any type of speech therapy.

Since A was diagnosed last July, we where told he had been put on the waiting list for Speech Therapy & due to his diagnosis he was a ‘priority case’ & we would hear back from them soon, this was the same time I was promised visual symbols to be sent through the post – needless to say I’m still waiting – wow their printer must be slow!

My son has a speech disorder due to his autism & early intervention is absolutely crucial to his future development. He is way behind in his speech and language when compared to his peers & this can only add to his already present communication impairments.

I have a strange feeling, I’ll be told its down to lack of funding in our area – its disgraceful, and its not just happening to me. It seems ‘professionals’ don’t care unless its happening to them – and why would they? They aren’t the ones with a 3 year old son who is going to mainstream school in September with one spontaneous word in his vocabulary – and they bang on about giving our children the best start.

I have been lied to over and over again, why do we have to fight for everything for our children? Don’t we put up with enough already?

Many children with an ASD are delayed in their use of language and shy away from using speech. Therefore other methods of communication need to be established before speech and language will follow – is it too much to ask for some help or guidance as to what these methods are?

Why does nobody care?

Why is there a lack of funding for crucial interventions to be present for those children that need it to live their lives the best way possible?

I’m not the only one who is angry, upset and feeling let down. I have lots of friends – fellow Autism parents who are being let down with therapies or having to wait years for a diagnosis whilst their children are being labelled as ‘naughty’ its about time people stood up and became more aware and its about time people started caring for the lives of our children – they would if it was theirs!

Sorry for the rant but I had to get it out of my system, I and many others fight endlessly for our children and support is so important.

I’d also like to mention that I’ve had some wonderful support from friends on twitter who have given me some great advice – where would we be without people like this?

Any comments please feel free to leave them below.

L x

In yesterdays post I wrote about limited interests and the effect it can have on both parent & child.
A, really struggles with the concept of sharing and taking turns, what’s his is his & what’s mine is his also.

One of the main impairments of Autism social interaction – which will always be with A but it can improve. A doesn’t play with other children properly, he will approach them spontaneously but usually ‘hugs’ them for sensory integration or acts inappropriately or to others ‘oddly’ If they approach them he either doesn’t notice or pushes them when they get to close to him – he can’t socialise appropriately as he doesn’t know how to & such situations can cause him to have a sensory overload.

We have tried many times to aid his social interaction by teaching him to share & take turns, needless to say we’ve had very little success. He gets frustrated, often aggressive & at times very upset – that’s why he prefers to play alone, its on his terms, its uncomplicated & less overwhelming.

Every ASD person share problems related to social skills, some more severe than others;

Conversational skills (Greeting somebody, joining a conversation, verbal turn-taking, listening skills, talking about a particular topic, awareness of personal space, ending a conversation.)

Play skills (observational skills, joining play, turn-taking, sharing, compromising, coping with ‘no’, coping with losing, reciprocal play, ending play.)

Understanding emotions (reading facial expressions, reading body language, voice quality – intonation, pitch, speed, awareness of own body language, having a large emotional vocabulary, anger management and self-regulation skills)

Friendship skills (Just like many of the above but also things like knowing what a friend is, and being able to choose appropriate friends, recognise true friends from false friends, develop the ability to share a friend, deal with peer pressure.)

All of the above are vital skills when developing relationships, most of them come natural to you and me but to a person with Autism they take longer to develop as they have to be taught & it can be very isolating for them.

So I thought I would share with you another method I was taught at Early Bird, People Games.

A people game is an interaction routine which involves adult & child taking turns, communicating and enjoying themselves.

The game should be SHORT. (A song or tickling)

Get your childs ATTENTION – try to look & sound interesting, be on their level.

Play the game REGULARLY, always in the same way so rules are easily learnt.

ENCOURAGEMENT to join in, begin taking turns – this could take a while to grasp but stick with it. (Stop if your child is getting to distressed)

HELP them to understand when its their turn by slowing down waiting, and exaggerating your voice or actions at that part of the routine.

TRY making up your own song that relates to the child, replacing a word in a nursery rhyme with their name for example.

Choice of people game will depend on your childs awareness of other people, his/her interests and where they are development wise.

IDEAS FOR GAMES

For a child who has a short attention span who is reluctant to sit still…

Rough & tumble
Running up and down the room

For a child who can respond non-verbally…

A song with actions

For a child with some words…

Again a song, but stop and wait for them to fill in the missing word, don’t wait to long but give them a chance to respond.

A child with more language

Songs – Old MacDonald, Wheels on the bus – Songs that give your child opportunity to join in or use their own words on request, example: the animal or the horn. Give your child enough time to process and wait for them to join in on request – if they don’t respond after you’ve joined in – just carry on & try again

Games should be

Short
Fun
Repetitive
Small steps
Turn taking opportunities
Motivating

The aim is to encourage social interaction & communication & taking turns but its important not to expect too much to soon, it could take a while before your child grasps the idea.

Any other suggestions for games or any comments please share as always.

L x

I’ve spoken about limited interests before and how much of an effect it can have on your child and yourself, trying to keep up with a child who can’t be occupied, is climbing furniture, running up and down the room, rocking back and forth, hand flapping….A child that just doesn’t respond to you, doesn’t look when their name is called – it can be frustrating, exhausting and emotionally draining.

I used to spend each day wondering why A didn’t want to play with toys, didn’t want to play a game with me, didn’t want to even look at me or have me anywhere near him at times – some days I’d think he hated me, other days id wonder what i was doing wrong or I’d be so tired from chasing him around the house, moving things he wasnt allowed to touch and lifting him down from the furniture that I didn’t have time to think.

When I went on the National Autistic Society Early Birds Course – this was the first time I realised I wasnt alone. I was opening up about how hard I was finding coping with A’s wandering & constant need for distraction and occupying, for once I didn’t feel like a failure.

I learnt that children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders tend to prefer toys such as shape and colour matching, jigsaw puzzles and construction materials. It’s also a good thing to encourage physical activity, because it doesn’t involve any need for imagination or understanding of language, its free-play, usually your child is in control and so its more enjoyable. It’s also been proven to help reduce problem behaviours through distraction and focus on an activity, also improving some key skills such as co-ordination.

Here is a list of toys and games that have proved popular with ASD Children

  • Bubbles – These can also help with the early stages of speech through making sounds: ‘Pop’ < “Can you pop the bubbles?” – Fun and learning at the same time.
  • Torches/Disco Balls – A, is fascinated by lights, he gets really excited and is a great way of calming stressful situations.
  • Shape Sorters – A short but focused activity, also helps hand-eye co-ordination.
  • Jigsaws
  • Duplo, Lego.
  • Marble runs – can be stimulating to watch
  • Trains
  • Drawing, colouring, paints, crafts.
  • Dvds – great for distraction if you have a portable dvd and for occupying should you want a 5 minute break 🙂

Books are also a great hit with lots of children –

  • Board books are great to buy as less likely to be damaged.
  • Books with flaps keep a child’s attention and build anticipation.
  • Books made of fabric and different textures can be great for sensory needs.

Toys for outdoors and physical activity

  • Trampoline – in my case great instead of buying a new sofa, also great to burn off excess energy and FUN!
  • Slide – Great for your little climbers, if they can’t climb the furniture, give them an alternative – we used to have a great big slide in our living room!
  • Swing – Great for children who like to rock.
  • Sandpit or water table – again great for sensory play

Computers and Computer games are fascinating to children with Autism and can be a great way of getting them focused on something.

Its important to set rules/boundaries from the beginning though.

  • ipad’s – Although expensive they facilitate communication and aid in learning. The iPad, like other computers, is an effective tool for many on the autism spectrum. Its flexibility and portability offer some additional advantages, over laptops or PCs. The touch screen and layout make the iPad more accessible for children with coordination or learning difficulties; these children may find sliding and tapping easier than either typing or writing. Moreover, the iPad can be easily carried, and thus is helpful for calming and focusing children who are on the go – would really help in stressful situations as a distraction tool such as going out to places.
  • Nintendo DS.

Software recommended for those with Autistic Spectrum Disorders are as follows

  • Character software
  • Factual software such as Microsoft’s Magic School Bus or the online encyclopedia Encarta
  • Software to develop vocabulary such as the Talking animated alphabet (Sherston: www.sherston.com)
  • Software for young children such as Make it happen: jump ahead toddler (Knowledge Adventure)

I hope some of these suggestions can be helpful to others – tomorrow I’ll be blogging about people games to aid interaction and communication as well as sharing and taking turns.

If anyone has any other toy or software suggestions that their child has really enjoyed please share by commenting below.

L x

Establishing some sort of communication is especially important for me with my son as he is non-verbal. As parents we all learn to ‘know’ what different sounds/cries mean, dirty nappy, hungry, thirsty, but as time goes on and your child gets older, you rely on their speech a lot more than you’d probably realise, at meal-times, when going out, to know how they are feeling, if they had a good day at nursery or school & most importantly when they are hurt or upset.

Its so difficult and often frustrating that i cant just ask A a question, how was your day? What do you want to eat? I must admit over time its got better – he now brings me his cup if hes thirsty or looks for biscuits or crisps should he be hungry. Its harder when we are out and he gets upset though – as i can only guess whats bothering him.

Because he is ASD, like most with Autism he is a good visual learner. By using visual supports he does understand a lot better and in time hopefully he will be able to communicate with me more effectively.

Visual supports can also be used with ASD people that can speak and also those who have yet to develop speech – like my A. They can really help with with both understanding and expression because unlike speech, visual supports are not fleeting and can be left where they are visable to both prompt and reassure.

When i went on the Early Birds course and through other professionals i have acquired quite a lot of information regarding visual supports and wanted to share that with others.

Visual Supports come in lots of different forms and should be chosen to suit the individuals needs and of course their level of understanding.

A great starter is objects with those who are at quite an early developmental level as pictures/symbols may be to difficult for them to understand or make any sense of.

Examples of using objects would be:

•Coat – to show that they are going out

•A plate/or fork – to symbolise that it is time for a meal

•A nappy – to symbolise changing time

Then once an understanding has been established, you can move onto photographs, for example;

•Photograph of nursery/school – to symbolise its time for nursery/school

•A photograph of the supermarket – to symbolise a shopping trip

Again once an understanding has been established you can move onto symbols.

Labelling pictures/symbols can also help your child to understand that all things have names, once your child has begun to associate the symbol with a particular place ot object, an identical symbol can be shown as an instruction to get something or go somewhere. Its really important to use symbols that mean something to your child, and to wait for definite guarantee of understanding before introducing more symbols as to not over stimulate your child.

We began to use objects of reference and still do now – we’ve had great success and A is much more relaxed and his anxieties have lessened as he now understands what we expect of him once hes shown a certain object, such as his nappy to get changed or his t-shirt to get dressed. We went through a very diffcult time of changing and dressing A, he would scream and put up a fight it was really hard and i just didnt know what to do – my portage worker suggested using a distraction or objects of reference – we did both and it worked – hardly had any problems since.

Requesting has also been and still is a challenge for A, we are looking into a system called PECS which stands for Picture Exchange Communication Symbols.

Children can be taught to exchange symbols for a desired object in the same way that we would teach a typically developing child to ask for things that they want – children can learn to associate the spoken word with a desired object and its symbol to use the basic skills of communication. PECS can be very effective if introduced correctly – and there are lots of success stories of children developing verbal communication after several months of use.

So what are PECS?

•PECS stands for picture Exchange Communication System

•PECS teaches children to EXCHANGE a symbol for something they like and want

•PECS teaches children to initiate interaction

•PECS can be rapidly required

•PECS uses symbols/pictures/objects

•PECS teaches children to express their need to be more independent

•PECS can help to reduce behaviour problems

•PECS supports and facilitates the development of spoken language

To find out how to actively develop PECS as a communication system you must do the correct research in order for it to work.

Please click on the link for more info

http://www.pecs.org.uk

I have spent hours and hours making my own symbols for A, in order to make a visual timetable to provide more structure and understanding to A’s day, and also in the hope this will help him settle into school. I also intend on using these symbols to develop the PECS system.

I will upload some pictures of my symbols asap.

Its really easy to make symbols, although time-consuming. I have found symbols via

http://www.do2learn.com

and i have downloaded trials from

http://www.mayer-johnson.com/boardmaker-software/

Its a 30 day trial which gives you full access to their vast collection of symbols, these widely used in my area and very good (pictures as stated before are on their way)

If anyone has any other links to websites they have got symbols from please share in the comments box below. Also any experiences you’d like to share about communication with your child or if you have used/use the system PECS please comment.

L x

As with all parents when A began to babble I couldn’t wait until he would say his 1st word. Me & his Dad had always commented on how clever & alert A was & we both thought he would be a really quick talker.

Then the moment came, he was around 10 months old & whilst babbling away he said ‘Dada’ needless to say we where overjoyed – but I remember thinking ‘Why Dada? What about me? Mummy?’ 🙂

We know now it meant nothing, he was just babbling. A, was a very content baby, a really good sleeper & hardly ever cried – he began pulling himself up with the furniture at around 9 & a half months old, he then crawled the day after his first birthday & started walking at 14 & a half months – we then waited for him to begin talking.

We go on holiday usually twice a year, one at the beginning of the year, one at the end & each time me & his Dad would say, next holiday he’ll be talking, so we’ll enjoy it more, he can say what he wants to do, where he’d like to go – then the next holiday we’d say the same, and then the next…..

– and we are still waiting.

I used to put it down to the fact ‘boys are lazy’ & the more I thought about it the more I began to think it may have been down to me that he wasn’t talking, I always knew what he wanted, you learn to recognise what each sound/moan means, dirty nappy/hungry etc. I would always give him his meals at set times so he’d never go hungry – never have to ask for food.

As time went on, I was more & more concerned that A still wasn’t talking, it was at the time of his 2 year development check that others began voicing their concerns at his lack of speech. I think that’s when I finally accepted, it wasn’t just his speech that was missing. He didn’t make eye contact, he didn’t point at anything, he didn’t play with any toys, he wasn’t interested in playing with other children. Would never answer to his name, with it once being suggested he may have hearing problems…everything began to add up.

A, not speaking puts a great strain on us. His lack of understanding means its even more difficult. He gets frustrated easily and will moan an awful lot, and I can’t just fix it for him by asking him what’s wrong? Its a lot of guess work, you become a detective in a way.

Its even harder when A is poorly, he can’t tell me where it hurts or if he’d like anything to eat or drink, he can’t pre-warn me if he’s feeling sick.

A lot of A’s lack of speech & understanding attributes to difficulties we have such as at mealtimes or if we want to go out, he can’t tell us if he’s not quite hungry, or what he wants or more so doesn’t want to eat.

& then there’s the ‘small’ things, he can’t tell us what he wants for his birthday or christmas, he hasn’t a clue when they are coming so we miss out on the build up of the excitement, although, whose saying it would be a build of excitement? The whole time may be too overwhelming…

A struggles expressing different emotions, he hardly ever cries and as I said before he rarely did when he was a baby. When excited he will jump up and down, makes noises or bite his fist.

We now give A choices of two things where possible to try and see what he wants, he likes that as he likes to be in control.
We use objects of reference when its mealtimes or we want to get him to lie down for his nappy changed, for example show him a nappy or his wipes.

We are also in the process of introducing a visual timetable, I’ve made lots of symbols to give A an idea of what’s going to be happening in the day, they are a symbol of something that A can relate to with a word underneath. On request, A will sometimes copy a word so I’m hoping this will also help his speech to develop.

The only spontaneous speech A has is the word ‘Marmo’ for Mario.

We have lots of hope for A developing speech, we know it will take time but we also know he has the ability to talk.
Hopefully once he gets speech therapy & begins school there’ll be no shutting him up – well here’s hoping 🙂

If any of you have similar stories, please share them below 🙂

L x


%d bloggers like this: