The thing about autism that is hard for typical people to get, is that body language is usually a huge form of communication for those on the spectrum that don’t have lengthy vocabulary. But the tricky part is recognizing those cues that autistic people are using to let you know if they are having a good day or if they are seconds away from a full on meltdown.
I mean yeah, some cues are pretty straight forward. Last night when I was getting his backpack ready for his first day back to school after Christmas break mr. L yelled, “I hate school” which = he was enjoying his winter break and wasn’t ready to go back yet, I get it.
Or when he covers his ears and says, “Brother be quiet!” Obviously = his brother had been talking a lot and mr. L needed a break. And this favorite,
Someone was obviously excited about someone visiting soon 😜🎅
But what about the more subtle things? When his fists clench, and his shoulders go up, and his voices gets more edgy? Or when my son mr. L sits on the opposite side of the couch but stretches out his leg, so his foot can touch you, but he doesn’t want you touching his foot? He could be getting madder and close to shooting off into tornado mode, or wants you to know he loves you.
What I think is the hardest to explain though, is the feelings he just gives off. There isn’t always an obvious body movement. Sometimes if you don’t know him or you aren’t paying attention, suddenly he’s just gone. He took off and heaven knows where or why he went. Curiosity? Anxiety? Overstimulated?
The good news is that if you sit by him and just listen and follow his lead, he can be easy and simple to understand. You just got to put in the time to do it.
I’ve had family, staff, and friends tell me what I’ve witnessed. Mr. L can go from 0 to 100 in seconds in either direction. Meaning he can go from going with the flow to bursting with excitement trying to explain the joy and excitement he wants to share with you. Or it can mean he appeared slightly agitated and then destroyed an entire classroom. ￼
Mr. L uses his whiteboard to show us things he’s learned by drawing it out and labeling things with colors, letters, and he’s beginning to spell out words. He’s shown us how he knows about planets, moons, specific ships, farm equipment, fruits and vegetables I didn’t know existed, types of trains, and fictional characters he enjoys. This is amazing to us because even though he’s 8, he doesn’t just sit down next to me while I’m folding laundry to tell me, “Hey mom, guess what! Today I learned about Mars” Hopefully someday he will, but for now I’ll enjoy deciphering his detailed expo marker art.
He also enjoys drawing in notebooks, leaving short messages for people, and using printer paper to leave signs around the house so we know what he’s looking forward to or currently excited about.
Mr. L has recently discovered that he can text his favorite person in the whole world- no not me 😜 I get “mom status” which is special, but his Aunt Emily is his person. He doesn’t usually text words, his go to form of texting communication is emojis. He could text his Emily emojis for hours and being the angel that she is will emoji him back. It’s fun to see another glimpse into his world via pictures to see what he is thinking.
Also with phones mr. L can be a big fan of FaceTime. He enjoys showing his dad, grandparents, or his Emily what he’s been up to with the phone, and likes to prop up the phone so they can watch and interact with him while he plays with his trains. He has good people in his life.
My son does tell us things, just not in the traditional ways. And from what I’ve picked up from interacting with other people with special needs, is that if you just slow down and wait, they not only will show you their world, they really really want to share what’s on their mind.
So what types of communication is your go to? What kind of communication do you have a hard time figuring out? Let me know in the comments below. Please like and share 😊