I specialise in teaching non-verbal communication skills with ASD children. I have 10 years of teaching experience but I’m finding that schools don’t put enough emphasis on this and using AAC with ASD (as well as a variety of other disorders). I’d like to hear anyone’s views including parents about this as I would love to be able to use my knowledge to help set these up within the family setting.
I have had great feedback from current and previous parents within the school setting but many didn’t know about the options available until I had their children in my classroom. Is this true of all areas or only schools I have worked in? Is there a demand for such a service?
I have great difficulty with non-verbal communication - I see faces but as their expressions change so rapidly, I can't spot the default state which means I can't work out the smaller changes which carry so much information. It's a continually changing set of photos that have no story linking them together. I spend so long analysing each photo that I get backed-up and run out of processing ability.
This is ok for a lot of 'data transfer' conversations like "What have you been doing recently?" or " How was your holiday?" but useless for when people are talking about feelings or personal / relationship things.
Luckily, I've always worked in all-male engineering environments so my limitations were easy to hide - blokes don't tend to do fluffy 'feelings' conversations.
I spot large, obvious body language movements but nothing subtle.
I really don't see that I could be taught to be better at it all because it seems to be a data processing problem - sort of a hardware limitation rather than a set of rules limitation.
I have no experience of teaching kids so I've no idea how effective this training could be.
I'm not entirely sure what AAC is but I'm going to guess that it means things like PECs which is a series of cards with all sorts of symbols on so people can communicate with having to speak. This can go both ways of explaining something to an autistic person or allowing the autistic person to communicate without speaking. There is also makaton which is hand gestures, a bit like sign language. This is very common for non verbal autistic people. There are also some electronic things with symbols the person can press and it'll speak for them. They can be very useful tools. We use PECs type symbols in the school I work in. It is very effective.
I think there can be a misconception that these things only benefit those with limited language but it also benefits those with lots of language but struggle with processing and interpreting body language. For example, if there's a child I know struggles with facial expression and may assume they are in trouble when being spoken to, I can show them a smiley face card or a thumbs up card and then they know it's ok and they are not in trouble. It can also be used to help a child that finds it difficult to know when to stop talking. Showing them a symbol of an ear gives them this visual cue. It can be used much further than this where full sentences can be communicated.
I think it should be a much more widespread tool. Especially with the use of iPads etc these days which could hold large banks of symbols.
I hope I've got the right idea of what the original poster meant. I don't think it's very easy to learn body language. I find I do actually know what a lot of body language means if given one example but when someone is talking and it's going too fast I can't work it out. I do think it's possible to learn a particular persons body language though if they are very familiar to us. I don't know if this is the same for everyone.
This is exactly what I was thinking. I’m very verbal but it’s not always the most effective form of communication for me and I will be exploring alternative methods. In fact, I’ve already got a little set of picture cards, that I carry around, that have pictures and words.
You’ve given me some useful ideas and you’ve put into words what I was trying to express. Thank you.
You're welcome. Communication is something I find fascinating as it not something I always find easy yet through my job I actually have a really good understanding of it. I find it amazing how much I can know about something but still find difficult myself.
Communication is one of my special interests as well but I have never, until recently, thought about alternative forms of communication.
It’s weird how my friend, who has two autistic children, teaches me things that she teaches her little girl and they work amazingly well for me as well. And I can definitely see how enhanced my life could be if I could access and use several different forms of communication, to suit different occasions or different moods, tiredness etc etc.
I think it’s great that you encourage the use of different forms of communication and I see a future where all the different forms of communication are used by all people to better aid communication for us all and for our non-verbal brothers and sister and little ones, to feel fully included in society :)
Keep up the great work
Thank you. I also have a massive interest in animals and I love learning about how different species communicate and for what reasons they communicate. Sometimes I think people with autism have more in common with some other species communication than with humans. Don't think you'd catch many animals making small talk. Haha.
That’s really interesting. I know for definite that autistic people are closer to their true nature than most people.
I’ve never been big into studying animals but I love talking to people who do and I do dip in and out now and again. My son watches wild life programmes and always encourages me to watch them.
My friend’s sister was studying ants and she had been studying them for four years when I found out. Another friend’s friend, studies sexual behaviour of animals and links it with humans.
I certainly agree we can learn a lot from animals and it seems like many autistic people have a strong connection to them. I used to talk to cows when I was younger, and I thought it was perfectly normal, and because I did, everyone else did. They didn’t talk to cows but they didn’t seem to think that it was weird that I did.
I’ve moved on to talking to inanimate objects now! Seriously, lol.
I never crease to be amazed at how wonderfully interesting autistic people are. I’d love to hear more about your animal studies and communication one day, as language is a big life long special interest of mine. When I was younger, all I ever wanted for Christmas was elocution lessons and the dictionary was my best friend. I’m particularly interested in how people put words together. And I love how when we talk from our heart, we can communicate with all sorts of people, even when we’re talking in different languages and this is evident with dogs and cats but even I somehow manage to communicate with my deaf and dumb neighbour. I don’t think that’s the proper term anymore.
I think autistic people can be more instinctive which means we have something in common with animals. Fight or flight being a big part of that. Generally behaviour and communication from autistic people is for a specific purpose and I think the same goes for animals.
I think as adults people some how forget there are other ways to communicate and become some what reliant on words. Just look at children. They will communicate with each other in so many different ways. They can speak completely different languages but still find a way to communicate so they can play. It's fascinating.
Deaf is usually referred to as hearing impaired now (well it is where I live anyway). I'm actually not sure about dumb. Possibly would come under the umbrella of speech impairment?
I can’t remember all the politically correct names for deaf and dumb etc, I used to know them for work, but now I’m not working I don’t need to and to me, it’s deaf and dumb, so that’s what I use.
I remember living in Germany when my son was about 3 and he was playing with a kid in the pool; both spoke different languages but they got on perfectly well and the language difference wasn’t a problem at all. I had a great time just watching them play.,