Help with communicating message

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janken
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Jun 27, 2016 10:36 am

Help with communicating message

Postby janken » Mon Jun 27, 2016 11:06 am

Hi

I've been working at an institution for 5 years with a 40 year old autistic man. He doesn't speak and only communicates with around 11 different signs, he also points to stuff. Mentally he has been evaluated to be around 2-3 yrs old (let me add he always uses the toilet). He is strong and easily gets frustrated and when he does, he gets very violent. His mother visits him once a week, she always brings a magazine (trains/planes) and homemade pancakes. They vacume together and it is the high-point of the week for him.

He doesn't understand weekdays, so thursday morning we will say "Mommy is coming today" and he beems with joy. The problem is, sometimes he will get out of bed and show the sign for mommy and he wants me to say "Mommy is coming today". If I don't say that, he gets angry. It seems to me that he thinks, that if I say the sentence then his mother will come, so he wants me to say it, in order for his mother to come.

His mother has been coming every thursday but has just gotten cancer and needs to be in treatment which will result in her not coming as regularly.

I've been thinking that maybe we should have some kind of visual system or picture that he can see that shows if his mother is coming or not, when he gets out of bed. We use pictures for his dayly program. But if he doesn't like a picture he will take it down and if we just had a picture of his mom he would demand that we put it up. I wish we had something that somehow was seperate from us, so that when he expected the mother to come he would not get mad at us when she was not coming.

Does this make sense? I'd be happy to hear your thoughts.

Thanks

Winnie
Posts: 4227
Joined: Sat Mar 18, 2006 2:48 pm

Re: Help with communicating message

Postby Winnie » Wed Jun 29, 2016 12:55 am

Good on you for being concerned and trying to troubleshoot his disappointment.

The prospect of his mother not being able to visit and his not understanding is just heartbreaking. I'm sure this is an unimaginable worry for his mother as she faces cancer treatment.

Would it be possible to introduce a visual schedule of the week -- with some designation of the day he will be following, so that you could indicate what day upcoming she might visit? In a if-not-now-then-when sort of way? And avoid manipulating the schedule in his presence so that he doesn't always associate you with the preparation of the schedule?

I'm sure that it would involve a lot of patient persistence and time to introduce a different schedule, and a lot of plugging in other preferred activities in place of his mother, but it might be a good idea to try a different system of some kind since her visits may not be regular.

Thank you for being a concerned presence in his life.
Winnie
"Make it a powerful memory, the happiest you can remember."

jaumeb
Posts: 167
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2016 10:48 am

Re: Help with communicating message

Postby jaumeb » Wed Jun 29, 2016 6:39 am

Would it make him happy if he could listen to his mom on the phone?

Autims brings suffering beyond imagination. It's like being always on drugs destroying body and mind. It can cause both frequent BMs and frequent urination, so no surprise that he uses the toilet a lot.

Thank you for helping him. Your ideas make a lot of sense to me.

janken
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Jun 27, 2016 10:36 am

Re: Help with communicating message

Postby janken » Wed Aug 24, 2016 5:02 am

Hi Winnie and jaumeb

Thank you for answering my post and my apologies for not answering back sooner, I expected to get an e-mail notice when someone responded but I was mistaken.

A week-schedule is a good idea, I have worked with other autistic people who embraced it and thrive with it. However we have tried a day program with him and he would just take the pictures he preferred and insist on doing that. Untill recently we have just had 1 picture up at the time, and now we've just started setting up 2-3 pictures, which seems to work. Maybe over time he will be able to use a week-schedule, that would be good.

Listening to the mother on the phone, is another good idea for when the mother is unable to come, I'll introduce that idea for the next time the mother is unable to come.

Regarding the mother, she is finished with her treatment and only missed one weekly visit with her son. She decline the chemotherapy that was suggested and only took radiation-therapy. I seems like the cancer is gone for now, fortunately. Although she's in her late 70's she is very active and healthy and has a very constructive outlook that keeps surprising me, I admire her.

When his mother couldn't come I told him that "the bag from mom comes today" and then my coworker knocked on the door (like his mother does), handed him the bag with a train magazine and said "this is the bag from mom" and it worked really well so we'll do that the next time the mother can't come to her weekly visit.

Now I think of it, we could have a picture of his mother (or her bag) behind plexi-glass and move it every night to the right until it is in a circle. Then he can see when the mother is coming. I'll just have to think of a design that makes it completely clear for him.

Thank you both so much for responding and getting my thinking going, it really helps.
Hope you have a nice day, and again sorry for the (very) late reply.

jaumeb
Posts: 167
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2016 10:48 am

Re: Help with communicating message

Postby jaumeb » Thu Aug 25, 2016 5:57 am

The world needs more people like you. Thanks for all your work and compassion.


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