Combining the Deaf and autistic cultures can have an understanding of an non normative communication. Having developed a nonverbal form of communication for Deaf people. such as American Sign Language, can be applied to the autistic community as adaptive communication.
Both communities have activists that demand inclusion and rights. With the Deaf President Now movement, the Deaf community gained a lot of momentum. The autistic community needs a similar event.
Oralism in the Deaf Community
Oralism is the belief that Deaf people should be educated through lipreading, mimicking mouth shapes and practicing breathing patterns, and vocal exercises to help Deaf people produce oral speech. This is referred to the oral method. The people who support this believe that it is important for deaf people to assimilate into the "hearing" world. They believe that deaf people should know how to talk with hearing people. They believe it would be harder for the deaf individual to have a barrier, even though there already was one. A delegation of hearing educators voted to mandate oral only approach to educating Deaf students. The goal was to "normalize" Deaf children through the use of speech, while ousting sign language in the process. .
The oralism movement that originated more than a century ago subjected multiple generations of Deaf people to mostly unsuccessful efforts to assimilate completely into hearing society through the use of spoken language and auditory aids.
History of Oralism
In 1880, there was the Milan based Second International Congress on the Education of the Deaf. This congress was the cause of the rise of oralism. They cemented the legislative and psychological power that hearing professionals were to have over Deaf people over the next century. It was influenced by the theory and belief that sign language is primitive and detrimental to evolution and higher thinking.
In the 1880's, there was a debate on whether sign language or the oral method in Deaf schools. Even though it would be easier for hearing people to understand deaf people through oralism, Deaf people would not be able to communicate with each other easily at all. There were more oral schools than schools that taught sign language during this time.
Decades after Milan, oralism was the prominent instructional method in Deaf schools in America. Many Deaf teachers were reassigned from academic to vocational classes. Deaf administrators were replaced by hearing administrators who had the goal of attempting to integrate Deaf students into society by teaching them spoken English.
The students that signed in class faced psychological or physical punishment. This included having hands hit with rulers, tapped the desk or tied their hands behind their backs.
In 1864, Gallaudet University, the first all Deaf university in the world, was under a large opposition. Gallaudet University was the first university where ASL is the main language used. One of the largest opponents was Alexander Graham Bell.
Bell played a central role in American deaf education and was heavily influenced by his parents. His father was a elocutionist who was dedicated to improve speech articulation. His mother was Heard of Hearing. Bell believed that the oral method was the future of instruction of the deaf in the United States. Bell invented several devices to help his mother hear. One of these devices made vibrations of speech was the telephone. He said that sign language jeopardized deaf peoples potential to integrate into hearing society.
Gallaudet University was very resilient under the administration of this first superintendent Edward Miner Gallaudet.
Oralism in the Autistic Community
Oralism is applied to autistic people as well. There are many non verbal autistics and autistics with language processing disorders that spend countless hours in speech therapy and do not speak. Some speech therapists (not all) do tell parents not to use signs because it would delay their speech.
ABA is also used to get an autistic child to speak. ABA can sometimes add up to 40 hours a week! There are some parents who use forms of quackery to say it will help their child speak. ASL is normally frowned upon because it is different than speech.
ASL does not delay language and speech development. ASL (I am in the United States so I will be speaking about ASL even though I know there are many sign languages throughout the world) develops language skills and relieves the frustration for the person not being able to communicate orally.
I started teaching my children to sign before speech. The area of the brain that is responsible for language develops faster than the area for speech. My children were able to sign when they were babies. This is the premise for baby sign language. Instead of modifying the signs, I used ASL because thats what I know.
Psychological Effects of Oralism
If not Oralism, then what?
History of ASL
If TC Was Used for Autistic Children