Our missed milestones are of the social, communication, and behaviorial flavors. Not a shock. This is the recipe for autism and I'm on my second batch! Lately, my son and I have been working in the speech area. I mix equal parts social, behaviorial ingredients with dashes of communication. He hasn't spoken any words yet, but he's attempted to! And, he's whipped up some sounds, added in some signs, and blended in some non-verbal cues. All of this leads to one tasty dish: Progess!
Here's what's on our menu:
We spend at least one hour each day engaging with each other, without distractions. This can be tricky with children who make no eye contact, don't share their space, and have limited interest in toys, but it's still doable. Start by using only your child's interests. Izaiah enjoys Mega-Blocks, a few plastic animals, a ball (okay, just the tag on the ball), and a couple of books. That's it, but it works. Introducing new stuff can be upsetting, so this is a good place to start.
http://handspeak.com/word/index.php?dict=ba&signID=154 Sometimes he will say "buh, buh" when I'm lucky. I give in before crying happens or interest is lost. I also use lots of expression and excitement when even a half sign is made or part of the word is said. Great big smiles and tickles are good and so is saying "Wow! and Whoa!" Sometimes I can get him to say these sounds too!
Next, I ask him to play 'blocks'. He hears me, he knows the sign, and he will grab his Mega-Blocks and sit down with me. He only likes a certain type of block and he makes the same thing over and over again. I hand him more blocks when he attempts to sign or say "blocks." We make it a fun, simple, game, keep it lighthearted and silly. Now, that is socializing!
He has a couple of favorite books and since he knows how they go, I will began reading (and signing) "Leopard, Giraffe....." then I will be silent and look as if I am about to say the next animal (which he knows is elephant), but I do not. Instead, I'm seeing if he will say it. And sure enough, he does try! "Elllllaaaa" he slowly says. YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So many big, happy, cheers over that!! We've had a couple of repeats of this too, which is fabulous!
He likes to line up his plastic animals. I line them up too. We say their names and do their signs. He's still learning them, but when you do it just a little every single day, it begins to stick! He enjoys numbers, so we also do lots and lots of counting of the animals too. Here's a link for tons of signs http://handspeak.com/word/index.php
We also put away each toy before we take a new one out because this is a great behavior for kids to develop.
If you struggle introducing new toys like I do, I usually will show him the toy, put it down somewhere and ignore it. Most of the time, in a few days, he will pick it up and play with it. Then we have more toys to work with over time.
You can see that my boy enjoys mouthing objects. This is an empty tube of toothpaste which is one of his favorite mouthing objects.
John 9:2-3: Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. Have you ever fell into the "Why me trap?" If so, be encouraged. The man in this verse had been born blind so that later in life Jesus could heal him. Jesus was showing who he was: God. Every neighbor, every family member, every synagogue member, every negative thought and person that boy and his family ever endured was forever put in their proper place. Your family and mine are also selected in this way. Everyday, our children do things we are often told they will never do. Everyday, someone who has met your child leaves with a better outlook on life. Everyday, others are encouraged by our strenghth, our faith, our will, our love. God is also growing us as people and as parents. Most likely you have discovered a person inside yourself that you never could've been without our kids, their challenges and the blessings. Just like that boy and his family, we too have been selected so that God can show who HE is through us. So, if you thought you did nothing to deserve this, you're right! Only God in his amazing love, grace, and mercy could find us worthy of such special children.
Annie Eskeldson writes for parents of young autists. She has 3 published children's books about autism at Ashi's Gift Website. You can find more blogs about autism at Ashi's Gift Blog.