My son is 28 years old.
His support requirements are for
Severe Learning Difficulty
Autistic Spectrum Disorder
Emotional / Behavioral Disorder
He is in residential care but comes home several times each year, usually between terms and at half term breaks. He does not go to
college full time anymore but those times are mutually suitable for the residential home and us.
His speech is very rapid and is difficult to understand. We try to understand him by picking out keywords that we hear. Staff at the care home ask him to slow down and they say this helps. When he talks it’s like a stream of consciousness, and can contain a lot of information.
He has very good comprehension and understands and follows clear instructions. In certain areas I believe he has above average intelligence.
I believe my son has the capability to speak clearly, and I also think doing so would help him to understand more of the world around him.
I know from a series of educational games that he played many years ago (PC Genius, 1997) that he is able to understand concepts such as “today”, “yesterday,” “tomorrow”, “in front of”, “behind” and so on. He also demonstrated an understanding of counting, adding up, etc.
I think giving my son the ability to communicate by speaking his thoughts in a perspicuous way is key to him communicating and interacting with the world around him in ways that simply are not possible at present. Communication would enable him to understand relative chronological concepts such as “now”, “later” “tomorrow” etc. He understands days of the week. My son has a tendency, like me, to understand things better in pictorial format.
I have found that drawing for my son to explain things has helped. For example, a horizontal line with today on it and an event happening in the next few days further to the right, with days in-between marked off with short vertical lines. Sentences for my son have to be short with no complications. A simple “Do you want tea of coffee?” is about as complicated as you can get. His carers thought that was too complex, assuming he’d pick the last word he heard (“coffee”) but I disproved that with a simple demonstration: my son prefers tea and chooses tea when he wants it (which is most of the time) - wherever it is placed in the question.
If the choices are more complex, “Which of these do you prefer?” then my son would not understand. But if I was to list the choices, one by one, on a sheet of paper (he can read), and ask him to choose, then he would do so and understand that he was being asked to make a choice.
I have asked the residential home to supply him with an iPad, because I have read several reviews that say iPads are especially good at enabling autistic children to communicate. But speech therapy and ideas to help my son communicate in an unambiguous way is my prime aim.
We live in Essex and the residential home is in the East Sussex area. My son’s Care Manager has asked Essex services if there is anything they are prepared to provide in relation to Speech and Language Therapy for my son, but it seems they will work with people only in the Essex area. East Sussex services have informed us that they will not be able to provide any services to address the rapidity of my son’s speech. I am going to have further discussions with the residential home about this, but I would still like to know if there is a general strategy that I can employ to bring my son’s speech to an understandable level. On rare occasions, when asked to really slow down, he has spoken very clearly and understandably, for which we praise him a lot.