For Autism Awareness month I thought it would be neat to share some local stories and videos. These stories will show how different kids on the Autism spectrum can be, their journey in the speech & language world thus far and how brilliant their minds are even though it may look different to an onlooker.
To start this off, let me introduce to you Jarrett. Jarrett turned 5 this past February and is a triplet. Although him and his brothers all share the diagnosis of Autism and are all extremely caring and loving, they couldn't be more different.
For those who didn't see the previous video, Jarrett started coming to me at age 3, was non-verbal with limited eye contact. You could still see his desire to be around others and through his affection and amazing pretend play skills.
Below is a video of Jarrett when I first saw him at age 3.
As you can see, Jarrett had minimal eye contact (making it look like he wasn't engaged) and had an extremely hard time imitating one sound in isolation. At this stage it is incredible important to notice all the other ways he is trying to communicate since he was not able to talk.
While we continued to work on sound production, we trialled a communication device to help him communicate and show us more of what he knew.
You can see in this video that he started to move his mouth in imitation of the sounds. It is important to recognize that although he wasn't looking at you it didn't mean he didn't hear you. As time progressed we saw just how much Jarrett was listening and understood. He began counting and saying the letters of the alphabet while pointing to them. He showed us he knew most of the animals and most age appropriate vocabulary for his age. His imaginary play grew and then slowly he started to say one and two word phrases. Jarrett went from being non-verbal, groping to make any sound, using verbal communication inconsistently...and now he is speaking!
He still has goals to meet in regards to his communication, but has grown so much over the past 2 years. Keep Jarrett in mind if you ever come across a child like him! They are listening to you, they understand more than you think they and you can always find a way to communicate to them.
Remember, every child on the spectrum is different with different goals that make them successful. Look out for our next story about CJ!