Tag Archives: deafblind

What would the REAL Helen Keller have thought about AUTISM?

Her teacher was known as “The Miracle Worker.” In the 2000 Disney movie, Hellen was believed to have become deaf, blind and intellectually disabled due to illness as a young child.

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Hellen Keller is said to have been quite an unruly child. She was prone to fits and tantrums, she screamed, she grunted, even hit & bit her teacher.

What compassion her teacher must have had to see in her potential? Her teacher was also known for her tempermant. She too was a fighter. She refused to give in to despair and fought against her own self-pitty.

"Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence." Helen Keller

Helen Keller is best known for being Deafblind, her acedemic achievements, and advocating for the rights of disabled individuals.

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I’m on a mission to find out what these legendary disability advocates would have thought or said based on historical facts. What would they have said about those who are not “neurotypical”? How would they have felt about autism and neurological developmental delays? What rights would they have fought for? Would they have fought for these children to be given equal access to language learning, American Sign Language (ASL), or Augmentive and Alternative Communication (AAC)?

Helen_Keller_with_Anne_Sullivan_in_July_1888
I have so many questions I would ask them…

Image Source:

Optimism – Helen Keller, by Liana Seneca
Helen Keller – Spirit of Courage – wiki commons
Americans With Disabilities Act – wiki commons
Hellen and her teacher, Anne Sullivan Macy – wiki commons

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PPT Season, Tears, and Frustrations

Yet another phone call from school, and I’n choking back the tears…

 
I hope and pray for a place where he too can belong. Stephen is Deafblind and everyday we challenge the misconseptions we’re met with. 

So far we’ve been through 4 placements and this 5th one may not be his last. He was in a 50/50 preschool class, the autism program, the MPH (multiple physical handicap program, the KEY program, and now the school for the Deaf. He’s in 4th grade now with severe language and communication delays. There are only 2 programs that I know of nationwide that specialize in Deafblindness. The thought that maybe there just aren’t any schools in state equiped to deal with his primary disability is terrifying. 

So I pray for the courage to fight another day, to not give in to despair, to see the infinite world of possibilities that I see and for just once to meet a teacher that sees the same.

AUTISM and the Hurtful Misuse/Abuse of LABELS

As Autism Awareness Month (April) draws to an end, the topic of labels become prominent in my mind.  I’ve had yet another horrible experience with audiologists. My son is congenitally Deafblind, a term I don’t always use because of people’s preconceived stereotypes about what Deafblind means.

Audiologists often fail to understand the diverse community of people they serve. The reason – nearly all accredited audiology courses in th US have no requirement to learn about Deaf culture, American Sign Language, or Deafblindness. Autism is a prevelant diagnosis today, audiologists are usually somewhat familiar with Autism. SOMEWHAT FAMILIAR is a relative term.

Parents should know audiologists are by no means qualified to make an autism diagnosis, nor to apply the label to a child with a complex medical history.

Parents should also be aware that use of the autism label in the audiological setting is ill-advised. The reason – audiologists often fail to recognize hearing loss, auditory processing disorders, auditory neuropathy, Deafness (as in respect to language acquisition), blindness – particularly cortical visual impairment (the fastest growing cause of blindness), Deafblindness, as well as the combined effect of multiple sensory impatient and/or multiple handicaps, when a child is labeled autistic.

Deaf-blindness is a low incidence disability and within this very small group of children there is great variability. Many children who are deaf-blind have some usable vision and/or hearing. The majority of children who are deaf-blind also have additional physical, medical and/or cognitive problems. Children are considered to be deaf-blind when the combination of their hearing and vision loss causes such severe communication and other developmental and educational needs that they require significant and unique adaptations in their educational programs.

Autism and Deafblindness are two different and unique conditions.

Why Deaf-Blindness and Autism Can Look So Much Alike

 For example Autism does not cause abnormal findings on a Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response (BAER or ABR.)

The ABR is used for newborn hearing screening, auditory threshold estimation, intraoperative monitoring, determining hearing loss type and degree, and auditory nerve and brainstem lesion detection.

Hearing loss alone (with no other medical, behavioral, or social issues) significantly impacts language acquisition. A child with a mild hearing loss can miss 25-50% of spoken language in the classroom.

What Is Language? What Is Speech? 

What are the effects of different types of hearing loss?

What is hearing ability?

The current DSM-V diagnostic criteria for autism requires specification of:

With or without accompanying intellectual impairment

With or without accompanying language impairment

Associated with a known medical or genetic condition or environmental factor

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Images Courtesy of:

I am not Autism – dnagengaCC-BY-NC-SA 2.0 Generic

see past labels – Krissy Venosdale – CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

I don’t know.” – Krissy Venosdale – CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Creative Commons License
Love Support Educate Advocate Accept by Liana Seneca is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Hunting Goodwill 

Well here I am finally… but how did I get here? I’m writing on my phone now because my little guy stole my seat as usual. He then proceeded to spin around on my computer chair, and naturally didn’t notice the cords. He was tangled! He stood up and crash there goes my laptop. The battery pops out and the cord has become disconnected, I pick it up knowing my dear old windows laptop may just have seen better days, but the screen isn’t cracked thankfully. So I set it to the side for investigation at a more convenient time (if I can find one.) When I finally got around to checking it out, I found the screen was blank and dark – no picture 😕

Now I should tell you what brings me “Hunting Goodwill” otherwise I might just get lost in a tangent or distracted by something decidedly more important.

So I’ve done a lot of thinking and God forbid I pick up a pen and go back to the stone age, my finger is cramping just thinking about it.

For those of you who know me, you know my life is complicated and never uneventful, but sometimes we all need to stop and catch our breath. I’m a special needs mom after all. It’s a high stakes game, very stressful, but the victory is enormous.

Today I’m thinking about the struggle, the fears and failures, the desperation. Dare I say the hopelessness – but I’ll never go down without giving the devil his due. I’m not giving up. That’s what I’m talking about “Hunting Goodwill.”

Yeah I’m struggling, I’m always struggling, but that’s what life ‘s about. Another year has passed and I look at my accomplishments, and it’s never enough. So I dust myself off and try again, try again.

I’ve been thinking about talking another run at potty training my 8-year-old, non-verbal, deafblind, autistic, Angel.  (Labels are just labels after all.) He’s my son, and I’d never give up on him. He’s truly an amazing person with innate potential.

We all have our own unique strengths and weaknesses after all. I’m not going to get hung up on negative emotions. I’ve spent two days researching the best approach and the real $ cost involved and I’ve come up with a number, which of course I don’t have. Have I mentioned having a special needs kid is expensive? I feel guilty for saying that but it’s true. There’s some shame in knowing that I’m failing to provide financially. I take one look at my son, and I realize I do have success.

I have faith that some people spend their entire lives in pursuit of. Spirituality I’m grounded like the tree that’s planted by the water. I have a gift in that it comes easy to me like the piano to Beethoven. I’m always “Hunting Goodwill” like “Good Will Hunting” I struggle with fear and fear of failure, fear of loss. I know I have something far more valuable than material wealth.

Who knew training pants could run around $30 – $50 each for an 8-year-old? Size 3T is what $10-$15 for 5 or 6 pairs. How many do we actually need anyway? Well, the experts on cloth diapers agree on 10 or more as a minimal amount. Potty training experts estimate 12-18 pairs depending upon how often you can and will do the laundry.

Do you have some goodwill to share? Every little bit counts. It all adds up. I’ll update you shortly on the details but for now I’m going to get back to my movie. I need to blow off some steam because before you know it the engine will be running full speed ahead…