I attended an interesting course this week run by Sense Scotland. It was another approach to the pictorial communication systems often favoured for communicating with non verbal people on the autistic spectrum. For me it was good from a few different perspectives. This particular system was set up as a social enterprise and appears to have found a level of success. Secondly I could see the possible benefits and strengths of this system. It appeared fairly straightforward and simple and that is always a good thing. Whether Andy would use it or not I am not entirely sure but we will certainly explore it. Like most of the other systems I have looked at I think there may be aspects of it that could be useful for Andy.
The day before I had visited a school for children with disabilities where I noticed evidence of several different communication systems around the place. I observed some lovely interactions but also it has to be said I observed some more complex communications. They were characterised by children displaying not particularly “challenging” behaviour but rather behaviour that signalled they did not wish to conform at that time and in the way expected. The staff all seemed very good at attempting to manage the children in an appropriate fashion. For a school to function in its primary objective of education of large groups of children there must be rules and systems I realise.
As a parent I always tend to think why is Andy dong this? He can’t speak but he is communicating his wishes and needs constantly but to truly understand his behaviour it is crucial to set it within his very different and I believe very complex world. Without a cultural context communication can be problematic. That is why I believe that some understanding of an individual’s autism and arising behaviours is so very important. Without knowledge of autistic people’s way of being it does not matter how many languages or systems we develop. We have to observe, learn, be aware of different ways of being and show a level of acceptance before we can communicate in a respectful and meaningful way with people who have autism.