Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Deafness meets Autism

Last night in the tub, Andrew was playing..I was involved the current edition of Living Without. He wanted to get my attention and he said, "mom. look. MOM! LOOK!! MOOOMMMMM! How do I say 'look' in sign language." This is just one example where autism meets deafness. With a cochlear implant Andrew can hear..most of the time. But in the bathtub, he can not. But he assumes, in his mind, that since he can't hear, no one else can either... so he thinks to get my attention he has to sign it. BUT..taking that one step further.. you can't SIGN to a deaf person "look" because..well.. they aren't looking! So it is like inside out ..upside down...lack of perspective taking...

Let me know YOUR thoughts..on ASL or 'sign' for autism and how it works or doesn't for you. Andrew never really 'took' to sign even though I still THINK in ASL sometimes thanks to a great teacher. You need to reference another person in order to learn sign. This is one reason I think the implant has worked really well for Andrew- it does not require visual referencing. Although he is a visual explain THAT one to me!! Andrew is just now expressing an interest and I do believe that counts as a second language!


The Glasers said...

Pamela enjoyed learning individual signs, especially the signs for animals. But, like Andrew, she had trouble with nuances like facial expression and syntax for sentences. She did not reference the instructor at all so even her signing was language-impaired. I think she would do much better at learning sign language now that she references people.

*Tasha* said...

Wow!!! This was really fascinating to me because I had never really thought about deafness&autism.

I'm deaf, with an implant, but ONLY got it at 19 years old, although I was born profoundly deaf and just turned 20.

My stepbrother, Orion, is 9 and autistic.

I have 7 siblings (yes! I know! =)) and ALL of them know varying degrees of sign and express great interest in it.... except Orion.

I suspect it's because usually an interest in learning sign is usually prompted by knowing a deaf person who uses it or having some "practical usage" for it. I know this makes sense, but it really comes down to motivation.

And Orion doesn't really have much attachment to me (thus no motivation), nor does he seem to comprehend I cannot understand him when he speaks....because of the "self-centredness" that autism usually brings.

But if you can find a way to make sign REALLY fascinating or practical, he'd probably pick up on it... glad to know he speaks though and is taking to the implant wonderfully.

I would think that being a deaf child with autism, that the auditory sensory "overload" would be WAY too much? I've had the implant for nearly a year now and I STILL get overloaded (but then again, don't we all, I guess?)

Glad I found your blog through ci-circle! Looking forward to reading more.

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