My Family

"Life will knock you down. You can choose to stand up again."

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Autism In Our Home - Part 2 - Communication

The autism spectrum is enormous. One of the differences between autistic people is their ability to communicate, their means of communication, and to what extent they are able to communicate. Many autistic people are non-communicative. They don't speak at all. Even that group can be diverse, though, as some might use sign language or written communication - just not verbal communication. Others do not communicate in any form. Colton is communicative. He speaks, writes, laughs, yells, cries, screams, sings, etc. He has always been communicative. However, Colton's communication is not considered appropriate. Please keep in mind that Colton is 11 1/2 years old. Examples of Colton's communication are as follows: Colton will holler out "AMEN" after a prayer at church. Loudly. Very loudly. Colton will sign the wrong words to a hymn in church VERY loudly. This can be misconstrued as a child who needs to be disciplined, who is being a smart-alec, who is just plain disrespectful. Colton, though, is not intentionally being any of those things. He is simply communicating the way that feels right to him, in his world. Colton will also go up to anyone at anytime in any environment and just begin asking questions, such as, "What is in your purse?" or "What is wrong with your neck?" or "Can I come play at your house?" This is where both boundaries and safety issues come into play. My dear friend, Heidi, was returning home from the grocery store a few weeks ago. It was about 45 minutes after school had let out. She saw Colton on a street corner, with about a dozen Utah Power workers. She stopped, as she always does if she sees Colton and told him to get in the car. She apologized to the Utah Power guys. Thankfully, they said, "Oh, no worries. He has been here with us for a while, just asking questions." Another time, Colton was walking home from school and Heidi's husband saw him. He told Colton to get in the car. Colton said, "I don't have my bike." Derek asked him where it was. Colton pointed to a house. So, Derek took him to the house and waited. Colton had randomly put his bike in a stranger's garage. Derek watched as Colton walked right into this house (again, strangers!) and into their garage and brought his bike out. Colton has also been known to walk into the house across the street from us. It will be 7 am and Colton will walk right in (we live in the boonies, so no one locks doors). No one is awake in the house. It is dark. Colton will find their iPad, sit down and play it. They will wake up to Colton in their house, playing on their iPad. Finally, shortly after we moved into our home, Colton went into the second pasture and cut the next door neighbor's horses mane. The WHOLE mane. With otter pop scissors. Needless to say, they do not speak to us. The animal was not injured, by the way. A few days later, Heidi asked him why he did that. His matter-of-fact response was, "She couldn't see out of her eyes so she needed a haircut." Again, the world that Colton lives in is slightly different. Boundaries, appropriate communication and safety are an ever-present issue. I will be writing several posts on communication, as it is a big part of his autism and the autism journey in our home.

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