“You Keep Using That Word…”

I started out this morning on this topic on Twitter, and realized I probably should just expound on it here instead.

When we’re out and about, we usually refer to the Monster as “non-verbal”.  I took him with me to a meeting on Thursday night, and one of my friends commented that she doesn’t understand why I refer to him as “non-verbal” when he’s clearly able to speak.

So… Continue reading

Home Not-Alone

monsteroncouchI’m very fortunate to have a flexible job that lets me work from home when need-be.  Even as a manager, since my teammates also can work from home (which they often do on Fridays), I can settle in at the dining room table with my laptop and get my work done, which frees me up to watch the kids if they’re home from school, and frees my wife up to get things done.

It also gives me interesting insight sometimes into the Monster. Continue reading

I got drink juice

The Monster's Talker, July 2016Yesterday was the assistive technology training session for the Monster’s support team at Gateway.

Well, it was the training session for the educational team and my wife.  Since the Monster’s still quarantined at home due to hand-foot-and-mouth, he had to stay home with me and R, rather than all of us being at school to learn how to use the “talker”.  But the important take-away from it is that everything’s in place to see if this helps him with communicating his thoughts, wants and needs. Continue reading

Communication is Two Way

The key thing is – communication is the transmission of information from sender to receiver.  It can’t happen in a void, or with just one person.

The funny thing is, when I worry about how communication works, I’m usually worrying about the Monster.  But it just goes to show that you can’t forget, in the heat of the struggle, about that simple rule above. Continue reading

Communication Matters

Monster with his communication bookUnderstanding what the Monster wants or needs usually’s harder than it looks.

He’s not bad about expressing the basics of his needs, most of the time.  He’ll use single words – “eat”, “drink”, “bed” – which usually expresses the gist of what he’s looking for… but getting to the specifics, and to a format that others’ll understand, is another matter.

And at eight years old, this is really starting to become a problem. Continue reading


I don’t take for granted what it is that the Monster notices or retains.  There are good days and bad days, and subjects where I know he’s well-versed.

Descriptive, literal language, he’s fairly good at.  For example, on Friday when he and I went down to the curling center, we spent most of the ride there and back talking about what we saw while we were driving.  He’s very good at distinguishing between things we see while we drive, though not always with precision, and with a little bit of prompting, he can work around his own scripts to describe things. Narrative language, on the other hand, is a deficiency that I don’t know how to work on without significant prompting.

But even I underestimate sometimes his descriptive retention.

Continue reading

Between Trips

I’m only home for a short bit between trips – the wife and I returned from the Dominican Republic last night, and I’m off to Minnesota today for the weekend – so I’ll keep it a little bit short and sweet.

I’ve mentioned in another post that we have a communication log for when the Monster’s at school.  Our communication system isn’t fantastic when it comes to how we handle things when we’re not around at home… Continue reading

How Was Your Day?

IEPThis is based on a conversation I was having on Twitter last night with another parent of a child with Autism.

The Monster’s only partially verbal – he can communicate his basic needs (“Eat!”, “Drink!”, “Go to sleep!”) but he’s not very good at a narrative of what’s going on in his life.  In some ways, I’d joke it’s like living with a teenager a couple of years early (“How was your day?” “Fine.” “What did you learn at school today?” “Nothing.”), but without the ability to really get useful information from follow-up questions.

One of the most useful things that we had added to the Monster’s IEP is a communication requirement. Continue reading

Speaking “Monster”

As we’re preparing for an IEP meeting at some point in the near future, the thing that keeps jumping out at us is the need for an environment where they can intensively work on his communication skills.

Now, it’s never been a secret that the Monster has issues with communication – R, his younger brother by four years, speaks in nearly complete sentences on a regular basis, while the Monster speaks in fixed snippets most of the time.  He can read letters, and he can make out some sight words, but he’s hardly “reading”, and he’s not really speaking on anything approaching an appropriate age-level.  And half the time… it’s a guessing game. Continue reading