[blindkid] Blind/Autistic child school placement/services

Barbara Hammel poetlori8 at msn.com
Mon Feb 16 20:48:41 UTC 2009

Having twins who are blind and autistic, I can tell you one thing is to try 
to get him to ask for things with words.  If a certain sound clues you that 
he wants a drink you need to press for a verbal word or a sign for the word. 
Play games like giving him a toy and ask him to name it.  We have to do 
choice-making with our verbal one.  Maybe your best bet would be sign 
language.  Sometimes when children learn signs they feel less pressure to 
speak and then the words come out.

If wisdom's ways you wisely seek, five things observe with care:  of whom 
you speak, to whom you speak, and how and when and where.

From: "Meng, Debi" <Meng at sccompanies.com>
Sent: Monday, February 16, 2009 7:22 AM
To: "NFBnet Blind Kid Mailing List,(for parents of blind children)" 
<blindkid at nfbnet.org>
Subject: Re: [blindkid] Blind/Autistic child school placement/services

> Rene,
> I am the grandmother of a 3-1/2 year old child who is blind.   He is
> also nonverbal.   What types of things did you do to get her talking?
> Right now this is our biggest focus, and I am looking for answers.
> There is nothing physically wrong to prevent Jonathan from talking.
> Any help would be appreciated!
> Debi
> -----Original Message-----
> From: blindkid-bounces at nfbnet.org [mailto:blindkid-bounces at nfbnet.org]
> On Behalf Of Rene Harrell
> Sent: Sunday, February 15, 2009 10:56 PM
> To: NFBnet Blind Kid Mailing List,(for parents of blind children)
> Subject: Re: [blindkid] Blind/Autistic child school placement/services
> Dear Melissa,
> I am also the mother of a child who is blind and autistic. She is 7 1/2
> years old now :-) Clare was essentially nonverbal until she turned 5
> 1/2,
> then we finally getting some words out of her and now at 7 1/2 her
> verbal
> skills lie somewhere in the 20 month old range for pragmatic language
> zooming up to the three year old level in some language areas. Over all
> she
> is extremely mild-mannered, compliant, and sweet.
> Figuring out the best type of program is really as individual as the
> child.
> I would start with you, and your ideas of what goals you personally want
> to
> see him master, both short term and long term. What skills are most
> important to you right now? Having some goals in mind will really give
> you
> direction and focus as you decide what kind of programming is most
> appropriate for your son.
> I'll give you an example from our family. For me, my biggest focus when
> Clare was 4 and 5 was on language development. This was our absolute #1
> priority. We knew statistics show that children who talk before the age
> of 7
> usually continue to make progress in linguistic skills (the rate can
> vary),
> but that children who are *not* speaking by the age of 7 have a 90%
> chance
> of never developing verbal language at all. Our overall focus was on
> communication in general, with the spearhead of verbal language. This
> was
> the focus and all other goals either tied into this one, or were
> secondary
> in importance.  (I.e. Braille was important to us because it tied
> directly
> into communication). We wanted Clare in an environment where she would
> be
> consistently encouraged to communicate, to have language modeled for
> her,
> and to be encouraged to use verbal language when appropriate to the
> tasks at
> hand. In turn, this was a big focus of our work with her at home.
> There was a preschool class for children with autism in our district,
> but
> ultimately we did not feel that was suitable for helping Clare best meet
> the
> goals we had set for her, because all of the children were nonverbal,
> the
> set-up of the classroom was not conducive to Clare being able to have a
> clear understanding of what was going on, and they were very reliant on
> picture communication and I did not feel confident that the
> modifications to
> this PECS system would enable Clare to understand *what other children*
> were
> doing around her, because she was the only one they would modify it for.
> There was a much smaller "multi-disabled" preschool program that we felt
> was
> a much better fit for her. Ironically on first blush it didn't seem as
> if it
> would be all that much different: the children in this classroom were
> likewise nonverbal. However, the classroom was *much* smaller--- Clare
> was
> one of three students--- given that there was always a therapist in the
> room
> (PT, OT, ST), a paraeducator, and the teacher, the ratio was 1:1. More
> than
> that, this classroom was equipped for a much wider variety of
> augmentative
> communication and all the children used devices with auditory output. We
> felt far more confident in Clare's ability to be integrated into this
> classroom in a way that would be meaningful for Clare, and we really,
> really
> liked the speech and communication program that was embedded in their
> whole
> approach. Because Clare is so well-behaved, she gets very easily lost in
> larger crowds of children, especially children whose behavior requires a
> lot
> more attention. She'd happily sit in a corner pressing buttons on a toy,
> or
> pressing her eye, or hand flapping away for hours if no one was there
> encouraging her to engaged and directly interacting with her. We were
> really
> confident that in *this* classroom she'd be interacted with on a near
> constant basis, which in turn meant that they would be working on that
> all
> important communication goal far more often that they could have in the
> autism classroom with 12 children.
> Now, had our goals been *social* in nature for example, this classroom
> would
> *not* have worked at all because of the small class size and because of
> the
> population of children in this classroom. And if our goals had been
> primarily *academic* in nature this would not have been a good placement
> either. That is why it is so important to really know what you want a
> school
> program to do for your son. There are no "right" and "wrong" programs,
> only
> ones that are suitable and not suitable for your child's situation.
> Is there any way we can help you brainstorm on what you might like to
> see
> your son accomplish in the next year? How is ABA working for him in your
> home program? What skills is he working on in that program? What is
> working
> for him well in his current placement, and what is not working well?
> (And as a side note--- I always like to put in a plug for Stanley
> Greenspan's "Floortime" approach for working with autistic children. If
> you
> google Floortime/DIR you'll come up with a wealth of information. We've
> used
> ABA for a lot of specific skill sets but nothing has compared to
> Floortime
> in terms of her language and social development.)
> :-)
> Rene
> On Fri, Feb 13, 2009 at 12:02 PM, Melissa Bruggemann <
> melissabruggemann at hotmail.com> wrote:
>> Hi all,
>> I have a 5 year old son who is blind and autistic. I am trying to
> figure
>> out what sort of services/school placement he needs for 1st grade. He
> has
>> been left behind in preschool for Kindergarten as the district could
> not
>> find a placement for him. He has no usable vision, is nonverbal, not
> much
>> receptive language and doesn't have that bad behaviors. He's currently
>>  receiving ABA at home every day but none in school. Any thoughts on
> what
>> type of program would be appropriate for him?
>> Thanks,
>> Melissa
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