Mom Teaches Her Son With Nonverbal Autism To Communicate Using Sign Language

"We still have a long way to go, but we're communicating with each other."

Colleen Tryner's son Dylan has nonverbal autism, a subset of autism where a person is unable to speak. According to Boston University, 30 percent of children with autism never learn to speak more than a few words. 

While Dylan may not be able to use his voice, Tryner thought she could help him communicate by teaching him to use his hands to sign. She hopes it'll help him better connect with others.

"People make the assumption that he doesn't understand," she said in a video for 60 Second Docs. "He gets excluded from a lot of stuff. People think that he can't handle situations. He wants to be included. He's pure love." 

So far, teaching him to sign has drastically improved their relationship. Tryner has been able to get to know her son better now that he has a way to communicate his feelings to her. 

"We still have a long way to go, but we're communicating with each other. He can let me know his wants and needs," she said in the video. "Sign language has totally changed our relationship. Dylan went from being unable to communicate to learning to express what's in him. He can tell me when he's happy which he never was able to do before." 

By sharing her story, other parents of children with nonverbal autism may be encouraged to pursue this option. "I want to give hope that it's never too late," Tryner said. 

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