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Date Posted:10:39:42 01/09/04 Fri Author Host/IP: 188.8.131.52.cfl.rr.com/184.108.40.206 In reply to:
's message, "Deaf autistics using sign language" on 10:26:22 12/01/03 Mon
As the parent of two deaf boys, 14 and 15 y/o, one also being autistic...... My opinion on this subject would be how could people NOT use sign language with a deaf/autistic person? If the hearing impairment is mild, I could see using voice and hearing aids alone... however, the additional impairment of autism just WARRANTS the use of sign language, since most people who are severely deaf need it anyway, even WITHOUT the autism! I mean, really LOL..... those who would think it is not warranted to use what would have been that person's native language (ASL) ANYWAY had they not had autism is like them saying "should we use English with a soley autistic child?".... The answer, of course, is "Of course!"...... Had it not been for sign language, my 14 y/o deaf/autistic child would have NO way to communicate and the frustration buildup would have been IMMENSE with a complete disaster at hand and an absolutely ZERO quality of life! So, my answer to this dilemma is simple...... the sign is necessary if that deaf/austistic person has a significant degree of hearing loss that does not allow free and complete communication via voice and hearing aids. I'll also stick in my $0.02 that I believe ANY child who is just AUTISTIC and who does not have a whole lot of expressive language and a deficit in the eye contact department, should ALSO be taught sign language as a secondary means of communication. I had the "pleasure" several months ago of visiting a "school" for autistic kids, and when I arrived there, there was no one there who could actually teach these kids (LOL director was at the bank!), so I took that opportunity to say "I'll wait" and then proceeded to involve myself and introduce myself to each of the 10 some-odd kids who were in the room. Not ONE of them could carry on a simple conversation with me, and not ONE of them could take the initiative to express what they wanted to me or anyone else... and none of these kids were deaf... all were hearing kids. To make a long story short of what I did with each of these kids, I'll give you one example of what happened to one of the kids there. This little boy of about eight was sitting at a table helping himself to huge scoops of cheese fish crackers, so I took the bag away. He protested a bit, grabbing the bag, as I thought he would. But he would NOT tell me "I want crackers!" or even "More crackers"... or even "cracker!"..... therefore, I got a little bowl and I put one little fish in it. Then, I handed the bowl to my 14 y/o old son, who was sitting at the table with us -- he at it. Then, knowing my son, he wanted more, as I planned. So, I let that little boy watch my son ask me politely for "more crackers".... which my son did, buy signing "I want more crackers, please" and I put about 5 in the bowl -- he ate them up as the little boy watched from the corner of his eye, as many autistics do, but I knew he saw the signs. To make it easier, I signed "more crackers?" to my own son, and he says "yes", so I give him more. Then I look at the boy and ask him "More crackers?" and he says NOTHING to me.... so, I give HIM nothing. This goes on for about 4 or 5 minutes, and I see the boy getting visibly frustrated, trying to grab for the bag, but I let him have ZIP, ZERO. I continue to hand my son the crackers because he is REQUESTING them, and I make the point of asking the other boy, via voice and simultaneous signing, if he wants "more crackers"... he continues to whine, and I continue to ignore his behavior. FINALLY.... a few minutes later, as the bag is getting smaller, this little boy CONCEDES.... and, with his head still down and looking away from me (his usual stance), he signs "more crackers".... so, I take the bag and dump about 100 crackers into the bowl, and smile and push the bowl in front of him......the reason I gave him 100 was to create an unforgettable shock effect, so that he would remember it and what he did to get those crackers.....but that was not to last :) .... he finishes those 100, and WITHOUT HESITATION, and with COMPLETE EYE CONTACT (because I held the bag near my face!), he looks at the bag, then me, then says "more crackers!".... and I give him about 5, and he scoffs them up. This went on for another 20 mins or so, but each time, it got much better, as I didn't need the bag near my face, I would not look at him until he gave me eye contact and made the request. By the time were were done, he was saying "more crackers, PLEASE" !!!.......and he was happier than a pig dipped in mud the whooooole time :) ...... as it took about 2-1/2 hours for Ms. Director to "go to the bank", she finally came back and nearly keeled over when she saw about half the kids in the room flailing away and signing to me and others! (I skipped the parts about the other kids to save space space here!).... She knew I was her appointment that she missed, but had no idea I would stay there and wait for her that long. She was freaking out and asking me "what did you DO to get them to TALK?" and I simply said "I taught them expressive communication by signing"..... within about 15 minutes, she was offering me a job there as a teacher (I had only come to see the program for MY OWN son!), and proceeded to tell me that they had an O/T and speech path that came there a few days a week, but that they did not know any sign. I told her that was a big mistake, obviously. However, she was also the parent of a 14 y/o boy in the room, and never signed either and had very little communication -- her boy was one of the kids I taught to sign! She was completely stunned to see me signing to kids across a huge room and not having to get right into the child's face, get their attention, and communicate..... which, of course, makes life MUCH easier for a teacher of 10 autistic kids! By that time, since she did not feel that the SLP needed to know sign, but just thought I would work there and teach sign, I dismissed the idea, because I truly do feel it is imperitive that the SLP know some sign, and I did not want to take the time to teach professionals who work there what they should already know in the first place in my opinion, especially since NONE of these kids SPOKE at ALL and she should have known to release herself from that SLP position and stop beating a dead horse in the verbal department and recommend either sign language or augmentative communication (such as a Dynamyte 3800 device) for some of the more technologically advanced kids, but since she did not after a few years of being their SLP, I simply did not want to teach nor work with an SLP who is obviously in it for the money and not doing her job as an SLP and making the proper recommendations to get SOME type of communication from these kids ASAP. In summary, the little boy with the fish crackers...... his mom came to pick him up at about 6:00 that evening (I was there THAT long!), and she came in and saw the cracker thing (we demonstrated!)..... and she started to CRY, saying "I can't believe my son is finally talking!" ..... by 6:00, he had known several more phrases other than "more crackers", so she was completely overwhelmed by the whole scene. So.....what's my point here....my point is that if a child (and I say child because I think if you're getting to this point with an autistic ADULT, it's never too late, but I'd question who was managing their language all their life!!)....so, if a CHILD that autistic, and ESPECIALLY ONE WHO IS DEAF, does NOT have an abundance of expressive and receptive language WITHOUT SIGNING, they need to be taught to SIGN....OR.... if it's determined to be better and more appropriate for that child, and augmentative communication device. However, since this is a deaf/autism question, my answer would be a resounding "YES"..... teach them their native language as you would teach English to solely autistic child :) ..... P.S. I work for a private school now but tutor my own son with his life skills curriculum, and he's under the private school umbrella and will graduate from that school. If you live in the state of Florida and are dissatified with your child's progress in the public schools, post me a note here and I'll let you know how you can enroll your child in a private school free of charge all at the expense of the state with the McKay Scholarship program....and if you have an IEP, YOU QUALIFY, end of story :)
>My name is Natalie and I am a CNA (certified nursing
>assistant) who works in a facility for persons with
>disabilities. I am also a sign language interpreter.
>I also work part-time at a non-profit organization
>that works with employment-related needs of persons
>with disabilities. At the facility where I am a CNA,
>there are two persons who are deaf and also autistic.
>They use very little sign language.
>Does anyone out there have any experience or research
>concerning deaf autistics who use sign language? The
>non-profit work-related organization where I work is
>starting a program to address independent living
>skills of deaf individuals, and as a sign language
>interpreter who is comfortable using ASL, I have been
>trying to find information on deaf autistics who use
>sign language, but I have been unable to find any web
>sites with this info. Can anyone help me?
>Thanks a million,
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