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September 28, 2010 / paperkids

Spelling it out

Our house has become keyboard central! Paper keyboards, computer keyboards, the dynavox keyboard, and the iPad. I can’t count the times I pick one up everyday.   I am always looking for an opportunity to ask Emma something about anything…”How did you sleep?” … “What do you want to do?”….. “What would you like to listen to?”…..”Tell me what you’re thinking?”…..  Tell me, tell me….
Many times I just hold it in front of her and  wait until she reaches out.   The iPad has been great for helping her to be more precise.  Seriously, her typing has greatly improved from using the iPad.  But she still prefers the paper keyboard.  She typed out:  I prefer paper… it feels better.


I think she might be feeling some pressure at this point.   Many times she’s  lost her patience with me and vice versa.  There’s been moments where I’ve wondered if this whole communicating thing was upsetting her whole world  – overwhelming her.  Was it feeling like too much of a burden for her?   I would completely understand if she’s over me at this point.   I’m even driving myself a little nutty with the whole thing. There’s just so much I want to know – that I haven’t been able to know.   Well, what’s one more question…

Me: “Emma, do you still like communicating with me?”

Emma: Yes

I felt some relief.  I guess I hadn’t scared her away completely.  Even though I knew it was a dumb question, I’m glad I asked it.

Me: “That’s good. I guess I feel like I’ve been nagging you lately and I’m always the one asking all the questions. Do you have anything you’d like to ask me?”

Emma: Yes

Me: “What would you like to know?!”

Emma:  Are you tired of reseting my hand?

Me: “No!  Of course not!   I love it – I could do it all day!” (And I literally feel like I do, especially on the weekends when we have more time together)

The “reseting” is in reference to those gentle hand squeezes that I do in between letters sometimes.  But I don’t do them nearly like I used to.  Emma is requiring less and less support and most of the time I am just lightly holding her arm below her elbow.

Me: “Why? Do I seem like I’m tired of reseting your hand?”.

Emma:  You seem anxious for me to want to type

Me:  “Well, I am – but just because I want to hear what you have to say.  I just want to talk with you all the time.  I love doing it.”

I was a little caught off guard with her question and her response.  But not surprised really.  She’d said something like this just a week or so ago  and obviously it was still something she was thinking about – still feeling the pressure from me in some way.  Or at least she was feeling my anxiousness.

Me:  “Emma, the only reason I want you to type is so that I can hear your voice.  I want to so bad.   And I feel like it’s my job to help you practice typing.  That’s what moms do, right?   I push you to type so that you can have ….  ”

What was the word I was looking for?

Me:  “…the freedom.  You know, the freedom to type whenever – for whoever – you want someday.”

This is an interesting journey.  It’s thick with many unexpected layers of emotion – and also lessons.  I sort of feel clueless in many ways about parenting a nine year old.  And Emma seems way older than a nine year old in many ways.  We haven’t been able to “talk” in all these years.   I feel like I’m making up for  lost time.  It’s strange, I know her so well that many times I’ve known what she’s going to spell out before she types it.  But then other times, like tonight, I have no clue what she’s going to type out …..

Me:  “Did you have a good day?”

Emma:  I appreciate typing

Me:  “I know!  How does it feel?  What would you say it’s given you?”

Emma:  It has given everything to me

Me:  “It has given everything to me, too.”

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10 Comments

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  1. kim / Sep 28 2010 1:37 pm

    I’ve been following your blog now for a tad over a month. I wish I were able to write as well as you and Emma so that I could truly express how deeply it touches me, helps me understand my almost 7 year old, gives me hope, and allows me see the beauty of Emma’s thoughts.
    Thank you. I wish I could say or express it better. Thank you.

    • paperkids / Sep 28 2010 3:32 pm

      Thanks for your beautiful words, Kim. It means so much to Emma and I to know that her story has given hope to someone. It continues to give me hope, too!

  2. Grandma / Sep 29 2010 3:02 am

    There is a saying: more will be revealed and the layers will peel away a little at a time.
    You are trying to catch up on 9 years’ worth…Thinking back (waaay back!) at the age of nine I liked a lot of solitude. Is Emma reading? We know she spells well, but does she read on her own, without being read to? Reading was such a treat for me at age 9 and now.
    Emma is very reflective. Her mom and dad are, also. You Sabra, are gregarious. So socially connected. It must be hard to be patient after all this time of wondering. As a 9 year old she is developing her own thoughts. Her wisdom is way beyond – she’s so much an “old soul,” and yet still a child needing reassurance. I like it that you asked what she wanted to ask you. That opens the door. You are getting good at that. You must be proud of how this is unfolding.
    You are doing this just right! Love to you.

  3. Rachael / Sep 30 2010 9:39 pm

    It’s just beautiful that you’re able to communicate like this after such a long silence. It is truly awesome, in the original sense of the word.

  4. Karissa / Oct 1 2010 7:28 pm

    I came across your blog randomly while searching for something else, but it is truly beautiful and inspirational. I read the entire thing in one sitting. Your daughter is a tremendous girl, with a remarkable talent for words and poetry. Thanks so much for sharing these with us. I’m truly touched by your story….

    • paperkids / Oct 12 2010 6:39 am

      Thank you so much, Karissa:) I love that it touches others besides just me. I will def share the comment with her.

  5. Gabrielle / Oct 13 2010 2:54 pm

    Found you via FB Autism Speaks Who out there uses an iPad or other keyboard devices? Here is a great post about communication between a mother and daughter.

    What a Gift to you and your daughter!!! I sooo relate to your posting as I too have a non-verbal daughter. Starting out with sign language (which still remains an ol’ faithful to utilise) and acutely aware that without technology she would not flourish socially nor academically (hand writing is not a happening thing for her)

    How wonderful that you and Emma have the relationship you do! Kudos to you, Mom and Emma!!! : ) I marvel at Emma’s insight and expression; as well as my daughter’s insight when we are at her laptop ‘talking’. My eyes puddled as I read your and Emma’s last 5 lines of conversation. Emma is truly a treasure!

    She has a saying that to this day she’ll whip out at someone (a poster we had seen online years ago) “Just because I don’t have a voice doesn’t mean I don’t have anything to say.” and nowadays many of us get to ‘hear’ what she thinks and feels. What amazing gifts we receive from our children!

    Thank you both for sharing!!!

    • paperkids / Oct 13 2010 6:30 pm

      hand writing is SO hard for Emma and we are debating on whether to just give it up! She is now striving for full independence in typing and I truly believe that will happen. I wish all the best to you and your daughter!

  6. Teresa Martino / Oct 13 2010 3:39 pm

    This is so amazing..my son uses a Springboard Lite to communicate and is ready for more in the kindergarten setting….this has inspired me to give “multiple” modes for him to use…paper, ipad, keyboards and his device….thank you..mother of twins on the spectrum….Teresa

    • paperkids / Oct 13 2010 6:32 pm

      Thanks Teresa! I haven’t heard of Springboard lite. I’ll have to look into that. My son has autism too and even though he has language, communication is hard. I was surprised to find out that Emma doesn’t mind using different keyboards. I’ve been surprised by MANY things!

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