Autism and Communication

I think because we neurotypicals (non-autistics) tend to speak a “similar” language that we make assumptions about how others communicate. But theses assumptions are cultural and not all of the “rules” carry over from culture to culture. Body language is different, the same gestures carry different meanings (eye contact, hand gestures, etc.). By opening our eyes, hearts and minds we can learn much and cross bridges of communication we didn’t know existed. Stop, look, listen, and don’t take things for granted – a great policy in general 😉

Restless Hands

I am increasingly convinced that we need to come up with a different set of milestones for how less verbally-inclined people learn language. Over and over, I see studies where researchers and educators work very hard (and not always successfully) to get autistic kids to meet the various stages of typical language development… contrasted with numerous stories in which autistic kids, teens, and even adults finally acquire language skills (verbal or written) in unexpected ways after years of ineffective therapy (well-known examples include Carly, Emma, Tito, Larry and Tracy, and more recently Drew, Mike, and Ethan).

Sometimes, the language acquisition is described as “sudden” or “umprompted.” Other times it is the definite result of deliberate struggle. But in either case, it seems clear to me that the professionals invariably mis-evaluate the person’s communication potential because they are looking for the “typical” developmental stages rather…

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listening – barb rentenbach writes to andrew solomon, magic ensues

April is autism “awareness” month. Knowing “of” autism isn’t enough. Reading about what it “is” from the outside isn’t enough. Postulating, guessing, interpreting what we see, or what we think an autistic person is experiencing isn’t enough. We need autism ACCEPTANCE – to accept that people on the spectrum are “Different, not less”. We non-autistics need to be Autism Explorers – looking to autistic authors/bloggers/facebookers, etc. to discover the ACTUAL experience of autism. We’re on the outside, looking in – let’s engage so we can understand, so we can become partners in the experience.

a diary of a mom

Two and a half weeks ago, I wrote a post entitled A Conversation about Autism and Empathy with Andrew Solomon  in which I shared, well, my conversation about autism and empathy with Andrew Solomon. I know, creativity abounds. Anyway, the dialogue that followed that post, both in its comments and on Diary’s Facebook page, meant a great deal to me, not least of which because it was driven not by those of us like me and Andrew who reside on the outside of autism looking in, but by autistic people sharing their own experiences.

I drew that conversation to the attention of my dear friend, Barb Rentenbach in hopes that she might join in and offer her perspective as a nonspeaking and long-misunderstood and oft-underestimated autistic woman. In response, I got this delicious photo ..  


{image is a photo described in the next image, which is transcribed}

And posted it on Diary with the following …


{image is…

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You should tell your kids that they’re autistic.

Knowledge is power.

Chavisory's Notebook

How hard it is to say what it was like
in the thick of thickets in a wood so dense and gnarled
the very thought of it renews my panic.
It is bitter almost as death itself is bitter.
But to rehearse the good it also brought me,
I will speak about the other things I saw there.   (Dante’s Inferno )

I’ve seen this passage quoted before by others in order to explain what it’s like to grow up autistic and not knowing.  It’s still by far the best explanation of that feeling I’ve ever read.

For Autistics Speaking Day this year, I want to say something unequivocally.  And it’s incredibly rare that I feel qualified to just tell other people what they should do, but—if you are an autism parent—

Please tell your kids that they’re autistic.

Or have autism.  Or Asperger’s Syndrome.  Or are on the spectrum. …

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3 Reasons Why Canadians (and Everyone Else) Should Stop Using the 1 in 68 Autism Stat (For Now)

Parroting a statistical headline without understanding the information is not spreading “awareness”, it’s spreading mis-information. Let’s move beyond awareness – which requires NO action or personal investment – to Acceptance and Understanding – things that need us to take time to learn, think, and move beyond our preconceived notions of what autism “is”. There is no one autism.


Well, well, well. Just in time for World Autism Awareness Day, there is a very highly publicized new stat about autism. This number will be used and referred to many times on April 2, 2014. It will be etched in stone and be forever called the “autism rate” or “rate of autism.”

The media coverage of the new prevalence numbers from the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has been nothing short of disappointing and shallow.

Then again, none of us should be reading about science or medicine via press release and that is what most media coverage of science and medicine is.

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