21 Days of Modelling – Dylan achieved a total of 217 new words throughout the three weeks!
The whole challenge was well documented throughout Augusts archives. It was a wonderful insightful experience which I shall definitely revisit next year at some point.
On day 11 of the 21 days of modelling I tried to be non verbal to fully immerse myself in AAC.
Wowsers, tough doesn’t even scrape the surface.
It was frustrating and I was slow. I couldn’t find the words fast enough and I could see people getting bored with me and I only did it at home with the children!
I even found myself breathing differently as the anxiety of not getting my message across took over every element of my focus. One thing that struck me throughout was how incredibly lonely I felt. I could see and hear what was going on but was unable to keep up to comment or respond to interactions going on around me. I gave up on trying to become involved unless communication was actually directed towards me and even then it took time and patience for the response to be composed.
It certainly helped me try to understand the difficulties that Dylan has when using AAC and ensured that I allowed him more time and space to be able to use it efficiently.
August 2016 also marks five years since we took Dylan out of school and had him full-time at home. I remember summer 2011 clearly and the terror and dispair we felt when we made the leap to remove him from special ed.
To be honest we had nothing left to lose.
When we took Dylan out of school he was like a little frightened feral mouse. He couldn’t sit, he was constantly twitching, he couldn’t respond to his name and wouldn’t come when he was called. He couldn’t hold a pencil, use a knife and fork, he couldn’t count, couldn’t use glue appropriately, he couldn’t read. He would smear his saliva over every single surface. He would run, flapping his hands from one end of the room to the other all day long. He would go upstairs when people came around and wouldn’t come down until they had left. He would verbally stim constantly, loud irritated humming, intermittently peppered with screeched, hand flapping or a constant ‘pill rolling’ motion with his fingers which would intensify when out-of-doors. No meltdowns, this was just what Dylan needed to do to get through the experience of being overwhelmed and anxious, I realise that now.
People used to stare, unsure of what to make of him. He didn’t look disabled or unwell; just really odd. We were lost with what to do to help him. School were unconcerned, and denied us any concerns – Dylan’s lack of development was always put down to his autism ‘this is autism’ they would say, like what more did we want?
We wanted more so we went and we did it.
5 years on it’s the best thing we ever did.