Mitchell’s Pictures

Visual Strategies helps the Webster family deal with tantrums

Mitchell’s parents shared.

Imagine having a beautiful, bright-eyed son who is born with ten fingers and toes. He crawls, babbles and plays according to all the developmental charts. Then, at about one-and-a-half years old, he stops making eye contact with anyone and his verbal skills all but disappear. To make matters worse, your pediatrician tells you that your child is deaf, which you know in your heart isn’t true. This is exactly what happened when we were told that our youngest son, Mitchell, had autism.

We weren’t sure where to turn. Whenever we took Mitchell anywhere away from the house, he would have a tantrum. We couldn’t take a quick trip to the grocery store without him making a scene. When Mitchell would have a tantrum in a public place, I would try everything I knew to help comfort him. Many people would give me nasty looks and assume that my child was just wild and undisciplined. Because children with autism look normal, people assume they are.

After consulting several doctors, the Autism Society and other parents of children with autism, we were led to a book that would change our relationship with our son. When we were first dealing with Mitchell’s autism, we were given so many different opinions about how to help our son. The one thing that everyone kept telling us was to read Linda Hodgdon’s book “Visual Strategies for Improving Communication.” It gave us an easy, practical method of communicating with Mitchell. Since using the principles in Linda’s books, we find that Mitchell’s tantrums are less frequent and more manageable.

Linda’s book gave us the idea to use pictures to communicate with Mitchell. We took photos of places and activities for Mitchell and typed the description on the bottom of each photo. Whenever we go somewhere, we show the photo to Mitchell. When he understands where he is going, he won’t have a tantrum. We carry these photos on a portable ring and Mitchell now uses this photo ring to communicate where he wants to go and what he wants to eat.”

Linda’s book has given us so much. The ability to communicate with our son and have our son communicate with us is a gift we thought we’d never have.

Vickie Webster

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