Journey Through Autism – Part III

The journey continues with Early Intervention services. The speech pathologist that arrived was a bubbly, energetic person. Looking back, she became my son’s lifeline. Her first goal was to teach him sign language as a means to communicate. This isn’t an easy task when a child won’t make eye contact with you.

I learned what is known as pigeon signing. Basically instead of signing a sentence, you are signing just the key words in a sentence. Of course, to encourage eye contact, we were signing near our face so he would have to look at us. We were talking as we signed also so he could still hear the words associated with the signs.

Seeing my son pick up the signs and start to use them was a major victory step for us. He started signing at thirteen months and by the age of twenty-one months, he could sign well over 200 words. The violent tendencies stopped. The nonstop crying stopped.

The obstacles weren’t over yet though. At age two, the speech pathologist broached the subject of autism with me. She had worked with numerous autistic children, and the sensory issues were beginning to become more apparent in my son. I started to absorb everything I could read on the subject. It all seemed to fit.

We talked about how he wasn’t sleeping at night still. The very next visit, she showed up with a weighted blanket. It was a hand made blanket with ten slots in it. In each slot was a pound of washers fit together by a nylon. They could be removed to make the blanket lighter. The very first night I put it on my son at bedtime, he slept through the night. Sweet relief to have a full night’s sleep!

Suddenly right after his second birthday, my son stopped signing. Refused to do it, refused to look at anyone once again. If we signed to him, he would get angry. At a loss, I turned to the speech pathologist. She decided to experiment and started signing full sentences to him. Wow – what a change. It was exactly what he wanted and needed to progress. Within days he was back to signing and again, the violent tendencies stopped. He could communicate on a full level with us.

As he was progressing through Early Intervention, it became necessary to make my son his “signing book”. It was a book full of pictures and words of all the signs he could do. This is a book he carried with him if he went somewhere I wasn’t such as the Church’s Sunday School class. This helped his other “teachers” or baby-sitters to understand exactly what he was trying to say to them.

Continue with me next time for the tail end of my son’s Early Intervention years. Thanks for following this journey.

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