Sunday, May 19, 2013

Deeply Emotional & #Autistic- how my brain processes emotions

The other day when I was in an IEP meeting the assisted communication specialist was describing a new communication book that we would be using for Beans.  She described how we would point at the pictures in it to talk to him, and not just use it for him to request from us. In other words, it wouldn't really be PECs, and it wouldn't just be a one way conversation. Most of the people at the table were confused at what this meant, why it was this way, or how to use it.  The communication specialist was trying to explain it the best she could in her technical language as it was taught to her. She was over complicating it, and missing the mark. That's when I stepped in.

I explained to them that many people on the autism spectrum never think in words, and don't interpret the world in language. Some of us can learn it, and some of us can't.  Sometimes we think in pictures, sensations, or in a way that I can only describe as intuition, because there is no word for that. When we speak to my severely ASD son with words he most likely has to translate this to pictures, or to whatever way his brain interprets things.  On a good day, some of the message might make it through, depending on how familiar he is with those words in that order. On a bad day, or day where he might be low on energy none of the message will make it through.  It will be a garbled mess.  So, when we point at the pictures to speak to him, there is a conversation going on. He is not just using his book to ask for cake, or to go swimming. He is able to 'hear' us. I might tell him that I am wearing green today, and point at the color green. Or maybe, I'd like to tell him that I think it's hot outside. So many choices, but the idea is to build on receptive language in a way that he might grasp it better.

That got me to thinking about the subject of how I interpret the world,