Deaf BSL family with ASD young child

Hello everyone! 

I've recently been approached by a BSL worker and teacher of the deaf, who works with a family where all members are deaf and using British sign language. their son (aged 3) has just received a diagnosis of high functioning autism. Although they are fully involved within the deaf community they feel isolated in that they are the only BSL family with an autistic child that they know of. Does anyone have any experience of working with such families , especially on keeping a deaf ASD child safe when out and about. Any advice very welcome. Any contacts with other such families very welcome! 

  • Autistic children almost always have low danger awareness or lower than usual danger awareness.  They can misundertstand peoples' intentions.  They frequently run off and can have meltdowns outside which makes them just react without thinking.

    I don't know what issues deaf parents would have other than potentially not knowing when their child is shouting for help but that's not specific to an autistic child as it can happen with any child.

    As the child is deaf, s/he may be much less prone to sensory meltdowns, or at least those that are related to auditory sensitivity.  I am sure as the parents are deaf they compensate automatically by being sharper visually in any case?  Perhaps that makes them more vigilant.  I would say the thing is for them not to assume that their child will be capable of the same awareness, street-wiseness, ability to be independent and manage situations etc. at the same age as their peers.  My 9yo is still like a toddler in many ways despite being very intelligent.

  • Thank you for this and I will pass this on to my friend. Her concern has been that she is unable to call out to him when in danger whilst the family are a little relaxed about this issue and give him space rather than, in their opinion, smother him! Obviously getting his attention is very difficult to be able to sign to him. It's a combination of  both parents and child being deaf that is the challenge  xx

  • They could use a wrist strap or a backpack with reins, if he is in significant danger when he's older he could have a SEN buggy when out.

    There might also be tracking devices that could be attached to his clothing, but at his age, and with having an ASC prevention will be the way to go.

  • Definitely! My immediate thought was to introduce PAWS so that the family could use the family pet dog when out and about. We did this for my son and was successful in stopping him from running off as he held onto the harness. Stupidly I had forgotten all about child reins (my son is 12 now so kinda out of the loop when it comes to toddlers!) xx

  • It is intriguing but I've come across both deaf and blind individuals who have diagnoses of asperger's syndrome as well