One of the ways that T is most effected by autism is his verbal communication, or almost complete lack of it (until recently.) The program that we have used for the last two years is PECS, or the Picture Exchange Communication System. http://www.pecs.com/WhatsPECS.htm I'm doing an entry on this today because he's started doing something new with this and it's very exciting. But first: in a nutshell, PECS is using pictures to communicate: it begins with just using one picture to request a highly desired item (hello cookie!) and ultimately ends with the person building entire sentences with these pictures (I want juice, I need to go potty, I'm feeling angry, etc.) He's able to request nearly every food item he wants as well as some activites like swinging, jumping, etc. This has opened up communication for him which is HUGE and gives him a sense of control over certain parts of his world. Major big deal.
So what's new? We have put most of his toys into clear plastic bins with lids and labelled them with a PECS picture of what's inside. The idea: he has to communicate to get the toy he wants. This is what we have to do - bombard his isolated world in such a way that eventually he prefers to be with us (people) and not just with objects. So he needs to approach a person to get a toy. Well, he did it for the first time this weekend! In fact, Rob & I were stunned to hear him say "I love you" repeatedly on Sunday, and we both wondered which toy he was echoing. We knew it was one he hadn't seen in a long time. Lo and behold, he walked up to the bin of stuffed animals, took the picture off the bin, took it to Daddy, chose the Leap Frog Baby Tad, and pressed the heart on Tad's cheek to get him to say "I love you!" Connections!!!!! Communication!!!!
Go Thomas, go.
I won't talk too much about the double edged sword of hearing him say "I love you" for the first time and the fact that it was simply echoing a toy. This is part of the heartache everyday. BUT...he CAN say it now, and eventually he will learn what it means...and say it to us.