An Eye-Opening Experience

S2C, Spelling to Communicate, nonspeaking, nonspeakers, Autism, I-ASC, Speller, nonverbal, RPM, Practitioner, Regulation

Recently I took my 9-year-old nonspeaking son, Corbin, for an eye exam. While we were there the technician and doctor praised him for being so cooperative. He wore a smile and did his best to follow their directions of where to look.

When it was time to dilate his eyes, he became distressed and protested. The technician said, “what we’ve found works best for kids like Corbin is if you hold him, lock your legs around him and I’ll pin him in my lap, and we’ll do it like that.”

I will one day forgive myself for the years I said okay to things like this. The years I let the experts abuse my son because “kids like Corbin” take more time, patience, and communication than the schedules allow for.

I responded with a clear “No, we won’t be doing that today. Please explain to Corbin what you need to do. I know he will do his best to let you.” It took just over 15 minutes. We showed him the drops. Let him feel them. Explained how they help. He was trying, he wanted to cooperate, but he was too scared. We came up with many ideas for what might work. Finally, he laid on top of me. I calmly held his arms which he allowed, and I explained we were going to help him keep his eyes open.

He walked in happy and left the same way. He was respected, and the woman who gave him his drops saw him differently. She became part of the solution instead of causing the problem. She had previously been taught it is okay to mistreat vulnerable, scared, dysregulated children with disabilities. That it was a necessary evil. That there was no other way.

S2C, Spelling to Communicate, nonspeaking, nonspeakers, Autism, I-ASC, Speller, nonverbal, RPM, Practitioner, RegulationNow she knows better, and I pray with that knowledge, she does better.

We have left doctors and dentists who had inhumane practices with their special needs patients. They have all added to the stigma that follows our children and leads to more extreme behaviors which leads to more of their mistreatment.

At the end of our appointment when he was being praised, I said “he’s so good because he knows he’s safe. Pinning kids down and forcing procedures does not make them feel safe and it becomes a vicious cycle. Thank you for taking your time to keep him safe today.”

I wish I learned this sooner. I regret every hand I allowed to pin my child down without explanation while he cried in fear.

I hope more parents will stand firm with me and stop the mistreatment of our kids in the hands of any medical professionals who rush to unnecessary and extreme measures. They need to make time and get creative, and we need to protect our children from those who don’t.

S2C, Spelling to Communicate, nonspeaking, nonspeakers, Autism, I-ASC, Speller, nonverbal, RPM, Practitioner, RegulationJaniaiah von Hassel lives in Wilmington, NC where along with her husband Matthew, where they raise thier three busy boys. In her spare time she likes to write, dream big, and live alive!!!




The mission of I-ASC is to advance communication access for nonspeaking individuals globally through trainingeducationadvocacy and research I-ASC supports all forms of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) with a focus on methods of spelling and typing. I-ASC currently offers Practitioner training in Spelling to Communicate (S2C) with the hope that other methods of AAC using spelling or typing will join our association

2 responses to “An Eye-Opening Experience”

  1. Tracy L Novak says:

    Thank you for sharing. I have been in that position more times than I can count. I am just starting the S2C journey with my 8 year old son, this gives me so much hope and fills my heart up! So happy for you and your son and job well done on educating those who see not other way to properly treat our children.

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