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Oct 2, 2013

Insight into the Nonverbal Mind

As an autism mom, I'm so very grateful for the resources out there that are actually from people who have autism.  Most people have heard of Temple Grandin.  She is a high functioning autistic woman who is very successful in her career.   I remember the first time I heard of her, I was so excited to read her books because she had first-hand experience with autism and was able to explain the mysteries of it in a way that was easy to understand.  I had previously been recommended a stack of boring books by clinicians, etc. Let's just say, I devoured the information in the Temple Grandin books, and that other stack of books is still unread.
The thing is, all three of my kids are basically nonverbal.  Sure, Garrett can talk some.  He can tell me what he needs.  He can quote TV and movies with the best of them, but he can't converse.  He has to learn the answers expected of him for basic questions.  Caiti has a very hard time remembering any words.  She has always struggled with language.  Jason tries sooo hard, but he is basically nonverbal as well.  Sometimes we, as parents, forget that just because our kids have a communication deficit, this doesn't mean that they don't understand us or what is going on around us.  I remember the first time I saw the below video about Carly Fleishman, a nonverbal, low-functioning autistic girl.  It was amazing to see the person underneath the veil of her autism.  
The part that affected me the very most was when the father was stating how he realized that he had said so many things in front of her thinking she didn't understand.  Don't we all make that mistake. This video helped me do a better job considering my children's feelings when speaking to others about them.
I think my very favorite resource out there that is written by a nonverbal person with autism is the book, The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a 13-Year Old Boy With Autism, by Naoki Higashida.

I would give a super good review of this book, but the author of Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell, who also has a child with autism, said it the best in his own review:
I love this book so much because it is a Q&A book.  Basically, so many questions that I have had about my kids and what they feel, how they see the world, why they do what they do, are answered by this boy.  It is an eye opener for me and a life changer.
That is why I am so thankful for those people out there with autism, especially severe autism like my children, who were able to find a way to communicate what is going on for them.  Anything that helps me to understand my children better is wonderful.

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