a little background

hi, my name is mandy and I have two amazing little boys. My oldest son, Ty, has been diagnosed with autism (which is what you will read most about in this blog); I also have Tripp, who is an amazing little brother to Ty (who you will also hear alot about). I was encouraged to start this blog to document our journey through life and life with autism... my world has been rocked in last few years and i have responded in good ways and bad ... but Jesus has gotten me through all of it...

i hope i can be an encouragement to you, and for the friends and family that will read this - maybe this will keep you posted indepth on what Ty is learning! :) and the adventures of Tripp too

thank you for reading, and if you have any questions, comments or smart remarks; feel free to post them.

Friday, February 15, 2013

speed bump

Communication is a touchy subject when it comes to autism. It is a necessity for daily living and when you're not affected by the inability to communicate you take the ability to communicate for granted and it almost becomes a reflex. Most people go to bed talking, texting, tweeting, facebooking, emailing and chatting with the world and then wake up the next morning doing all the same things again. I know I have issues with knowing when to keep my mouth shut?! I never have to stop and think about how to form words or how to use hand signals to express my needs so that someone else will understand me. There are so many people out there who struggle to communicate on a daily basis. When faced with autism, communication barriers come in a variety pack: the inability to form words, knowing how to mimic words but not really ask for things, not being able to read social cues and not being able to control body movements can really hinder a conversation.
Ty struggles daily with communication.  It is hard for him to get his point across but it's not for lack of trying! He babbles a lot and "talks" to us constantly.  Sometimes its in a normal tone but he does get animated when he is trying to get his point across. If he wants to go outside, he will run to the door and jiggle the handle then run to me and "talk" while pointing at the door and if we don't go outside then he will run and throw himself on the couch while screaming and peeking out of the corner of his eye just waiting for me to give in, sometimes I do.  Ty does have some hand signs that he uses to get what he wants and he does have a few words: more, momma, ball, iPad, my iPad, bye bye, papaw, uh ah(no), bird, mine, bread, bite. When he talks it's not always crystal clear, most of the time his words are squished together and not finished. So "bird" comes out "birrrr", "momma" is said clearly, "iPad" is "iPaaaa"  - you get the idea. He has a hard time finishing his words. I'm not sure if it's because of a lack of strength in his muscles located in and around his mouth or if it's just something that isn't connecting during the "thought-muscle-action" process(I know that's not the technical term but you know what I mean)? Whatever the cause may be, it makes for a struggle on his end. I've been asked many times "Will Ty ever talk?" That's a hard question to hear and to answer. Most days I answer with the positive "Yes, I think he will. He already is forming words and sounds and trying really hard to communicate, and these are all signs of communication and basic steps of learning how to talk. So yes." I go on to talk about how most babies and toddlers that are learning to speak babble first and then mimic and then start to form sentences and for Ty it's just a slower process but that he is following in those steps, which is promising. I never want to be pessimistic when it comes to Ty and the things he struggles with, the Bible says that our words have power and that what we speak over someone can become reality. So I want to be careful when I talk about Ty and his future (and Tripp too). Don't get me wrong, I have wondered and I have questioned, and I have cried and I have prayed a lot! But I never want to say "well this is good enough" because I know that Ty can and will do amazing things so why would I limit him to what my mind can comprehend?
Some people have asked me to teach them how to talk to Ty. I love that there are people who want to get involved with my little man and that seek to be a part of his world. I don't know how to go about this? I guess the first thing I would say is to just listen to him and talk to him as you would any other child. He will talk to you and he will grab your face and make sure you are looking at him while he talks to you. (that always makes me laugh out loud). Ty understands just about everything we say. We didn't always know this but now that we do, things are a little less hectic around our house. I can ask Ty to go get something and bring it to me and he will do it, I can tell him to throw something in the trash and he will do it, I can tell him what's going on and he understands. He doesn't always agree with me (what child does) but he understands what we are saying. This is huge! When we finally realized that he knew what we were saying, we had a whole new game plan. We give Tripp a lot of responsibilities and require a lot of him because we know that he can do it and because we want him to be challenged, learn and grow. The same thing goes for Ty, but with Ty we didn't want to require something of him that we weren't sure he could do and I think he was trying to tell us "hey I can do that too!" but we weren't listening. One night I sent Tripp in the kitchen to get himself a glass of water, he goes and gets a cup and then holds it to the dispenser in the fridge and fills up his own cup. Well Ty came up to me with a an open cup (we still use sippy cups) and starts "talking" to me, so I said "sure you can get some water too." His face lit up, I had to help him push to get the water to come out, and then he stood there gulping the water as it spilled down each side of his cheek. We did this two or three times. When he was done I gave him a paper towel and asked him to help me clean up the mess and not only did he clean it up but he also threw his paper towel in the trash!? I sat back amazed, not just that he did all of that, but that I have been to blind to see it before. So the student becomes the teacher! Communicating with Ty is a learning process and there is no precise science to it. We learn on a daily basis and I encourage you to find someone that you have a hard time communicating with, and just spend a little time with them, listen to them, watch them, they will eventually show you what they know and you will learn how to communicate in a whole new way. Yes, communication is a speed bump in the life of someone with autism, but if you slow down and ease over it, you don't really notice the bump but you get to enjoy the ride!

thanks for reading! :)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Mandy now I will stop and listen more closely to Ty. Because I have a lot to learn from him and I want to be able to comminucate with Ty, he is such a joy to be around. I love the way his eye sparkles and that smile just makes my day brighter. God has bless Ty with wonderful parents and a great brother. Never lower you expectations of Ty, for we have no idea what he will accomplish. I pray for your family often and I say reach for the Moon.