By Sara Fairchild
Thomas was diagnosed with Autism when he was two years old. After his diagnosis, over the past 19 years, teams and teams of wonderful and talented people have worked with him to help him to talk. In spite of all of the interventions, it's still easiest to understand him by watching his body.
You can tell when Thomas is nervous because he twists his fingers on top of each other in really uncomfortable looking positions. And he rocks intensely. He rocks his tall body between his legs in big, bold swaying movements and then he takes off in a sprint usually accompanied by some kind of a "yeeeeeeee" sound. When these things happen, you know he's frustrated or anxious. If you don’t let him twist, rock and run he stares you hard in the eye with a bit of desperation and his frustration and intensity will mount. Thomas is trying to reach you. It is his way of trying to tell you "Let me get this out. I really need to move."
As his mother of almost 22 years, I recognize his communicative intent, his dialect, and respect it deeply. He is trying to reach out. He does want to let people know what is going with him and what he needs. It’s just that he doesn’t have mastery of too many words.
My beautiful son, tall and handsome, has learned to make do with other means, like laughing. If I ask him to come with me somewhere boring or somewhere he is uncomfortable, he inevitably starts a giggle fit. This happens in a movie theater, a doctor’s office, or a library. He knows that he is supposed to be quiet and that his giggling will force me to take him out of there. He's clever that way!
He does have some words he can say, but he saves his verbal skills for things that are truly important. "Cookie" he can say clear as day and "treat" and "candy" and "donut." These are really no problem and anyone can understand him then. But for all other things in life, you have to get to know him better before you can learn his dialect.