My Deaf Autistic Son and Me
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This Self Study, submitted in conformity with the requirements for the degree of Master of Education, is in the form of a series of vignettes and describes the challenges I experienced as the mother of a deaf autistic child trying to find an education system that could accommodate my son's needs. It describes my attempts to find support for him and for myself. The study describes the difficulty I had in obtaining an accurate diagnosis of my son's disabilities due to the fact that both deafness and autism present similar language difficulties. My son's deafness was diagnosed well before his autism, which resulted in his education beginning in a system specifically designed for deaf children, so that he received no early intervention for his autism. My study describes the stress entailed in moving our son from one school system to another in an attempt to find a teacher who had expertise in both deafness and autism. I found gifted and caring teachers of the deaf and teachers who had experience in teaching children with autism but, at that time, was not able to find anyone with expertise in both. In later years, we moved our son back to the School for the Deaf where a program for deaf/plus children had been developed. My data have been culled from documentation I gathered from the time my son was an infant and up until the age of 10 years. I have compared my experiences with the literature. My study ends with several recommendations for teachers, namely: (a) recognition of parental stress, (b) culturally Deaf signers for deaf autistic children, (c) an autism workshop for teachers of the deaf, (d) inclusion of autism in training for teachers (particularly teachers of the deaf), and (e) research plan of action in deaf autism.
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