Autism and Meltdowns: Sign Language May Help
Finding the Reason for the Meltdowns
My son was diagnosed with PDD-Nos on the autism spectrum soon after his second birthday. I noticed that the older he got, the more meltdowns he experienced. I watched his behavior meticulously, looking for triggers. I wanted to understand what was going on and what I could do to help.
Researching on the internet, watching his behavior and questioning every doctor, therapist, educator, expert and parent I could find - I found the answer.
There were two reasons my son was having these meltdowns.
1. My son was experiencing sensory overload brought about by any of the following:
- flourescent lighting,
- sounds produced in crowded places like malls
- overpowering and plentiful smells that could be found in food courts
- textures such as denim
2. My son was frustrated by his inability to communicate his wants and needs.
After discovering these two triggers, I started searching for a solution. There had to be a way for us to communicate. I went to his school and spoke to his team. I knew they were teaching him sign language. Unfortunately, he wasn't responding to it. Here's the other problem. I couldn't understand him, even if he used sign language. To make matters worse, they didn't offer any classes for the parents! How does a school teach a child a form of communication and not teach the parents?!
Back to the internet I went. I learned that there are different kinds of sign language. Wow. As if things weren't complicated enough! Then his Dad called me and told me someone at his job told him about these videos that teach sign langauge. It is geared for kids and their parents. I looked it up on Amazon and bought the whole set: which cost me several hundred dollars. I got the DVDs during spring recess. I put the DVDs on and he soaked them up. Of course, we all watched the videos to be able to communicate.
He returned from school that Monday with a note in his book bag from his teacher. She asked what I had been doing with him because he had an explosion of communication using signs. She couldn't believe how many signs he had learned in a week. He knew more signs than they had taught him. Best of all, we all understood what he was communicating. The meltdowns occurred less frequently.
Today my son is 10 years old. He reads, writes, draws and sings. He continues to attend special ed, but he has progressed immensely. We continue to encourage him to pursue his interests.
Signing Time Videos
These were the videos that I purchased. They helped us to communicate and put an end to the meltdowns. If you would like to see what the videos are like, scroll down to the bottom of this page to watch the youtube video. I purchased the entire set, but you can buy one or a small gift set to get started. I can't rave enough about what these videos have done for us.
Sign Language Puzzle
We purchased this sign language puzzle to reinforce the sign language alphabet. The puzzle piece shows the sign for the individual alphabet. It helps them become familiar with the sign. Great tool that can be used to quiz your child... or yourself!
American Sign Langauge Book
My older children were the models for this book. The photo shoot took place a good year before he regressed and starting exhibiting signs of autism. It is a great reference book that you can have on hand, for those times your child uses a sign they learned in school. It must have been weird for him to see his siblings in the book. LOL!
My son is pictured on the upper right hand corner and my daughter is on the lower left nad corner of the book.
Preview of Signing Time Video
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