Monday 25 January 2016

Never taught how to break the ice, in a different key

Is it possible that people with autism are still locked away?  I simply couldn't imagine being parted from my children or them being hidden from society because they happen to be autistic.  This is undoubtedly what used to happen as reported in The Daily Telegraph this Saturday by Kate Chisholm whilst reviewing 'In a Different Key' by John Donvan and Caren Zucker. 

As I read the review I was, as I have been many times, so relieved to be living in a time and country where my children are not taken to state-run institutions where they will be pumped full of various narcotics in an attempt to 'normalise' or placate their behaviour.

One of the keys parts of the review focused on the blame put on mothers for their children being autistic. According to the review, an article in Times Magazine in April 1948 ran an article that suggested these (my) 'frosted children' became so because their 'refrigerator  mothers' failed to bond with them.  I suspect it is simply that the mothers were never given the tools to break through the ice.

I remember having a feeling of disappointment after my first son had his first speech and language therapy session.  They hadn't done or said anything?  In fact all the therapist seemed to do was show me specific ways of playing with my darling boy.  As if I didn't spend all day sometimes trying to play with him.  She had pointed out a few things she was doing and gave notes to me on them afterwards.

Of course I realised that I was being given strategies to do therapy at home.  It was simple things like encouraging gap filling, encouraging requesting, encouraging eye contact and all just by changing the way I spoke and moved. Our second child needed more assistance in the form of my learning Makaton sign language and him using a picture exchange system to communicate. In both occasions, I was given the strategies and equipment to help my 'frosted children', indeed, I as given the tools to break the ice and help them access the world around them.

I'm so thankful that attitudes and 'healthcare' described were not frozen in time.  Speech and language therapy along with many other types of therapy such as occupational therapy is not simply dispensed at an institution or health centre.  Certainly for us, it's a way of expanding my sons horizons and is delivered on a daily basis with a mother's love and compassion.  And when there is a breakthrough, the results simply melt my heart.

Our Blog - Why ALL forms of communication are awesome, it's not all about talking
Our Blog - Comments from Steve Silberman on Neurotribes

The Telegraph - In a Different Key


  1. You know, I used to live in Singapore and I'm sad to say that children on any part of the spectrum or with learning or physical difficulties are really hidden away. It is so sad, and thank goodness we don't have that attitude here! Thanks for linking to #coolmumclub lovely x

    Talya -

  2. All so true - am just thankful that times do change, and people become more aware of the fact that autism is not 'caused' by mothers, and that more and more tools are provided as we go along.

    1. Indeed, turns out the world isn't flat and I'm not at fault... Although what beautiful faults they would be. Love them dearly and glad there's support for us all.

  3. We - as a society - are getting there. We're not there yet but we're moving in the right direction and I also read something recently about the way they dealt with autistic children in the past that made me very glad my boys were born now and not in the past.


    1. Have you read Neurotribes? Might like this:

  4. I agree with Nym we are moving in the right direction but we aren't there. Nice to know that mums aren't being blamed for not giving enough love of playing with their children.

    1. We certainly all have enough to worry about already. Thanks for stopping by.

  5. I too am glad that we have moved on from that sort of treatment. I think there needs to be a lot more improvement on the understanding side of it, but yes, you're right we are now given the tools to help. Some welcomed, some a little patronising. But at least we are moving forwards. Thanks you for linking up to #spectrumsunday lovely. This week's should be live really shortly. Hope to see you there xx

  6. Thank goodness that society and healthcare is moving forward although there is still a long way to go


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