Just because 12-year-old Phillip can’t get the words out doesn’t mean that he has nothing to say. The preteen keeps a blog entitled “Faith, Hope, and Love… with Autism” to record his thoughts for an audience willing to listen. Continue reading
Ken Siri and his son, Alex, are the subject of an upcoming documentary called “Big Daddy Autism” which focuses on their relationship and day-to-day challenges. Continue reading
At age 2, Jake Schindler of Colfax,Wisconsin, was diagnosed with autism. Unable to speak, Jake has recently learned he can express himself through painting. It started when his grandfather saw a show on television about two men who were also on the spectrum that were able to create beautiful works of art. Jake’s mother, Christina Schindler, thought it would be a good idea to have Jake try this too.
One of Jake’s care workers, Teri Anderson, helps Jake set up for his painting sessions, “I set everything in front of him and I ask him what color he wants to use and he picks it up and sometimes he wants it in his hands and sometimes he wants me to drop it on his canvas.”[i] Both Teri and Christina notice that Jake enjoys painting with bright colors, particularly purple and pink, and reflects his good mood.
Christina can tell that Jake enjoys painting, “You can see he’s really enjoying it too. You’ll look at the corner of his eyes and grin and see all those facial expressions that at times we don’t see.”
Jake’s older brother is also autistic, but is verbal and can handle daily tasks more independently.
Christina is thrilled that her son has found an outlet to express himself, since he cannot do so with words. His paintings have been donated to the Red Cedar Medical Hospital where he was born, and has been transformed into mugs for sale at the Mane Street Salon and other areas in his community. His work has even been transformed into an interactive children’s book entitled “What Do You See?”
[i] “WEAU” Autistic artist paints a thousand words. 28 Oct 2013. Web. <http://www.weau.com/home/headlines/Autistic-artist-paints-a-thousand-words-229614041.html>
Watson Dollar was born typical, but at the age of two regressed and was eventually diagnosed with autism. Although not seen or discussed everyday, there are many children who develop “normally” the first two years of life—socializing, learning language, communicating, showing emotion—and then eventually, slip away. Watson’s parents, Pam and Don, reflect on his first years as being an active child, singing and dancing around the house, until he became distant and his 150 word vocabulary was no longer there. Watson was enrolled in different therapy programs and learning facilities, but to no avail. He was silent until November 11, 2011 when he communicated his first words with his mother, typing on an IPad.
Both confused and excited, Pam tested her son’s ability to communicate and was impressed to learn he was able to express emotion and recall memories of his childhood to his mother. He remembered growing up, naming names of classmates who were both nice and mean to him, and recalling experiences with his childhood friend, Chaneka Roby. This new-found communication came especially handy, as Watson was now able to express why he was feeling agitated and expressing his wants, rather than having emotional and behavioral meltdowns.
When asked if there was anything he wanted people to know about autism he responded, “For people (to) try to understand me. Then they will be nicer to people with autism.” [i]
The use of non-vocal communication is becoming more prevalent in the autism community, and even here with our students at Shema Kolainu-Hear Our Voices. Using non-verbal communication tools, such as the IPad, enables the child to express his or her needs, and therefore reduce unwanted behaviors.
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[i] “USA Today” Autistic man breaks through the silence. 14 Jul 2013. Web. <http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/07/14/autistic-man-breaks-through-the-silence/2516527/>
Social media has become a staple in communication across the globe. It allows for constant contact, networking, and various levels of friendly and professional communication that could not otherwise be achieved. It provides an unlimited amount of benefits, with the digital world at the fingertips of anyone who chooses to use it. One impact that social media has that is less commonly explored is its impact on those with autism in the communication world. Continue reading