Continuing Home

The ongoing saga of a Continuing Anglican church home, as seen by a member of the laity.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Autism Speaks

One thing about being (or trying to be) a parish family is helping others dealing with circumstances. Last Sunday Joanne wanted me to take a picture of her and Phyllis, because "Phyllis had been helping her so much" as she still recovers from her stroke. And during another family's time of troubles many years ago and for many years, the parish was there as support.

On the way home from work this afternoon I heard an ad for "Autism Speaks" on the radio and immediately thought of one of our youngest members who has been diagnosed with some form of this. It seems science has come a long ways from my first encounter with an autistic child back in the 70s -- Bobby was barely verbal but had incredible visual perception as shown in his drawings. Reading the Grow With Itpage, "Depending on his capabilities, he may excel at jobs that require enormous amounts of concentration but limited intense interaction with others, such as computer programming or graphic design", Bobby is probably now a superb graphics artist. One can hope, anyway.

The website indicates that the early identification is a good indicator. (And whoa, "computer programming"? Follow Dad's footsteps at Microsoft?)

But we as a parish have not yet addressed the issue of having in our midst a young'un with clearly different perceptions and responses and most of us, myself included, don't know how to constructively interact with the kid.

I think we're overdue to learn. This is one of "our own."


  • At 9:04 AM, Blogger The Miller Menagerie said…

    Finally had a moment to steal to rewrite my original comment. Drew advises me to always write in a text editor for this exact reason. One day, I'll listen to him, in the meantime, "curse your web form, Blogger."

    Interaction with Newt is still pretty basic, and because of his sensory issues, he's a very tactile child. He loves BIG, squeezy hugs, and one of his favorite things to do, to creep people out, I'm sure, is to hug random people in the grocery store. He has very few words, and still doesn't respond to his name much, but he is improving in that regard.

    He's able to communicate with us through a picture communication system (PECS: Through that system, he's able to assemble small sentences, Subject + Verb + Direct Object. a little boy, that is younger than him, who was simultaneously receiving occupational therapy, can use the PECS to assemble more complex sentences (adding quantity and color modifiers in his sentences).

    Transitioning from one point-of-focus to another is his hardest part, especially if he is particularly obsessed with something. He's absolutely obsessed with swordplay and he LOVES wielding dinner knives or his little plastic swords. Rudy even sword fights with him now. It's something that we're pretty comfortable with at the house, that unnerves people elsewhere. There's a whole protocol for sharing scenarios, taking turns, and for transitioning from one thing to another. Actually the PECS can also be used as a picture schedule, and that is quite helpful.

    We intend to do a little informational session once the rector search hoop-lah has settled.

    In closing, I offer these two resources:

    1. An inspiring article about an autistic man here in Kent: Free to live his life: Kent man thrives in spite of autism, other challenges

    2. The AMC theater in Woodinville, and here in Kent offer a "sensory friendly" moving every month. They draw the lights up, bring the sound down, do not enforce the "Silence is Golden" rule, and allow Gluten-free, Casein-free snacks to be brought in. Saturday after next, they will show "Up". It's nation-wide, at participating AMC theaters, in partnership with the Autism Society of Amercia. Here is it's informational page:
    Sensory-Friendly Films

  • At 9:11 AM, Blogger The Miller Menagerie said…

    Also, I wanted to share this post of mine, on Newt's 3rd Birthday:
    Big Newt is 3 Years-Old!

    The picture of him is from IKEA. They have a child care facility where you may drop your child off for one hour while you shop. The caveats are: They must be fully potty-trained, and not wearing diapers. When Newt turned 3, we knew he would not be anywhere near ready to use the potty (he has a potty phobia, and is adamant about wearing diapers). I mentioned this to a Småland worker, and she said, "Oh, that isn't enforced with special-needs kids, because that just wouldn't be fair." So, as a right of passage, on his 3rd birthday, Newt went into Småland for his very first time. He only last 20 minutes, but I kind of anticipated that, so I was actually paying for my purchases when they buzzed me to return to Småland. But, unlike the last few times, where he was distraught that he couldn't accompany his big sister, Prue, to the play area, he was overjoyed at going in. Can't tell in the picture, because the intake-protocol was testing his patience, but once in side, he was all smiles!

  • At 10:01 AM, Blogger Continuing Home said…

    Thanks very much for this! There's clearly a lot we're not seeing or understanding about Newt. I look forward to the informational session.


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