On May 29th 2010 something life-changing happened to our family. I watched in amazement as my daughter, Emma, communicated with me through a keyboard. This may not seem like a big deal for a nine year old, but trust me, for her and I it was like a trip to the moon… and I’m still flying. Emma has autism and is non-verbal (with a mental retardation diagnosis). I have been dreaming about the day we could “chat” for her whole life. And now that this time has come, it has given me so much more than I thought it would.
Shortly after, I posted this message on facebook about it. It tells how it all began:
I Believe We Have Contact
I am in the midst of a miracle, friends! You are probably aware that my daughter, Emma, has autism. She is nine and has been non-verbal and has had low communication skills since she was 2 1/2. Recently I have been facinated by Tito and others and reading up and researching a little bit on IPM (Informative Pointing Method) used by Soma (Tito’s mom) and which is on the Strange Son website. I have been working on having Emma type “I want candy” when she wants it. It has been pretty hand-over-hand, but the other day I noticed that she was really focusing and leading the way. In IPM, they say to sit on the right hand side of the child and have them use their right hand. You place your hand on theirs for support and pressure when necessary. They can keep their stimm in their left hand. I started asking her questions “Do you want another peice of candy?”
She typed “Yes”. Am I imagining this?!
I had not even been sure that she could spell! We were in the zone, so I asked her if I could have a piece and she typed yes again. I asked her who’s party we were going to and she typed “Vivis”, the name of the little girl who was having her party that afternoon. I then asked her what color her toenails were and she typed “blue”.!!!!!!!
We started jumping up and down. I saw the elation in her eyes as well. We were both getting this. We shared in this together.
Since Saturday, I have found out a few things.
Me: What’s you favorite color?
Emma: yellow ( I had always thought it was purple, so I asked her twice)
Me: What did you have for lunch today?
Me: What kind of pet would you like to have?
Me: ( About her new pic by Renee) How do you think you look in this picture?
Emma: I think I look pretty (yes, the whole sentence!)
I am beyond amazed!! What else will I learn about her and where will this lead? I have so much hope. It’s hit or miss and she needs to be looking and attentive, but WOW!! I have no words for this one, except maybe just
PRAISE GOD!!!! …………………..
And this was just the beginning! Emma wants the world to know “I am a smart girl”, as she pointed out on the letterboard. I want the world to know this also and maybe re-think what children and adults with autism are capable of. Everyone needs encouragement and hope.
We do this blog together and I share it with Emma. She came up with the name ( see post What’s in a Name? -http://paperkids.wordpress.com/2010/07/23/whats-in-a-name/) . She has a lot to say and we have learned a lot together.
I’m so thankful to all the individuals with autism who found a voice to share the beauty, depth and wonder of their journey. They have given me a new perspective and much hope!
Here are some websites that have inspired me:
www.sue-rubin.org Sue’s website is full of info on FC (facilitated communication and includes many of her presentations on her life with autism
www.strangeson.com This is where I got the info on IPM
www.carlysvoice.com Carly Fleishman has given me so much inspiration!!
www.halo-soma.org This is the Soma’s (Tito’s mom) website
FYI: I’m so lucky to have an AMAZING photographer for a friend. My friend, Renee Bowen is not only an incredible photographer, but also one inspiring mom. She has three wondeful kids, including a child with autism. She has been a mentor and friend of mine since before Emma was born. She actually captured the very first photos of Emma. And if it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t have nearly the amazing photos on my blog. She did this one and the one on my home page and MANY others I’ll use. And, having a blog of her own with all her beautiful photography (www.reneebowenblog.com) she’s been able to help me out with the kinks! Thanks girl!