We bet you never thought it was possible to be proud of your child for arguing with you. But Abigail’s parents are, and with good reason.
Abigail is a 12-year-old girl with nonverbal autism. Her family does their best to make sure she has all the tools and assistance she needs to be able to be healthy and happy and continue making progress in her education.
Her dad even makes videos of their experience to share with other families. Their goal is to spread awareness for what autism is really like, create a more understanding and autism-friendly world, and help other parents of children with autism navigate the sometimes daunting task of raising a child with autism.
So why are they proud of her for fighting with them? Because she wasn’t always able to communicate with them. While arguments aren’t fun for anybody, they are an effective means of communication that they’re happy to be able to share with her.
In the video below, Abigail’s dad describes the early stages of helping her learn to communicate via her iPad. When she was first learning that using this technology would help her get what she wanted and make sure her voice was heard, it was vital that her parents positively reinforce her actions every time. And that meant they couldn’t say “no” to her very often, for fear she might stop “talking” to them altogether. It was more important for her to learn to communicate than for her parents to enforce certain household rules.
Now Abigail is able to communicate so well with her iPad that she no longer needs the positive reinforcement and is able to hold much more complex conversations with her parents. Below, Abigail successfully asks for exactly what she wants and has a full-on argument with her parents about whether or not she can have yogurt. Her parents say no, since she has already eaten and bedtime is approaching. Abigail is visibly upset and finds several ways to show her anger, but the argument stays calm and reasonable because both parties are able to make themselves understood.
While we have no doubt that this was a frustrating moment for her and her parents, we also think it’s awesome that Abigail has come far enough to be able to have this complex conversation.
You go, Abigail! check out the video to learn more about this amazing young lady!
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?