November 2012

Thankful for the Gift of Words

by Tim on November 20, 2012

Our J-Man has started typing. It is a marvel.

It’s like he’s engaging in the Herculean task of trying to figure out the entire English language on his iPad keyboard, one letter and word at a time. We try to help him spell new words, but he is nothing if not independent and stubborn. He wants to figure it out, so we give him some freedom to explore language as he sees fit.

For instance, I have watched him in recent days try to figure out the word ‘pillow’. His first attempt – at least to an outsider – would have appeared to be rather a mess. If he doesn’t know a word or isn’t sure of it, he tries to first spell things phonetically. Completely logical, of course, but by ‘phonetically’ I mean spelling it the way it sounds when he tries to say it, which when you are seven years old and have been diagnosed as minimally-verbal with the speech of a 2 1/2-year-old, then the spelling can get rather interesting.

His first attempt at ‘pillow’ on the iPad (aka, his ‘talker’) a few days ago was something like ‘pelero’ or ‘peleow’. Not bad, I thought, considering I’m not sure how many times he’s seen the word and the way in which he was trying to sound it out.

I took him to an actual pillow, typed ‘pillow’ on my iPod, and showed him the word. He considered it thoughtfully for a long moment, then pulled my head down onto the pillow next to his, which was all he wanted in the first place rather than a spelling lesson. However, it seemed to sink into his awareness somehow in as much as you can tell these things with him.

Yesterday, he wanted all four of us to snuggle together on the floor on pillows, one of his favorite sensory activities. So he pulled me over to his talker, and he typed ‘pollow’. My heart turned into a big puddle.

After so long pointing at pictures and trying to use word buttons on devices, this feels like a miracle. I can’t believe how far he has come in his communication this year. We live in marvelous times.

So I am thankful for peleros, peleows, pollows, and pillows. This world and this little boy’s heart and courage are big enough for all of them.

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My Post-Election Message to Autism Parents

by Tim on November 7, 2012

For our readers in the U.S., here’s the deal.

Either your candidate won, or your candidate lost. Either you are overjoyed in your celebration of victory or you are depressed in defeat, or you’re just tired of it all and you’re relieved it’s over.

This election has driven everyone absolutely crazy. Profane amounts of money have been spent to win votes and the power that comes with getting more of them than anyone else. Elections turn people against each other. In the end, it’s debatable what ‘winning’ actually means.

No matter who we voted for, we are still autism parents. We have a ton of work to do to help prepare the world for our children and to help them grow into all the wonders they are destined for.

So, take a day, and do whatever you feel like you need to do. Celebrate or sulk, drink in sweet victory or cringe at the bitter taste of defeat, cheer or curse, whatever it is you feel is necessary. Get it out of your system.

Then, get ready and move on.

We have an enormous task ahead of us regardless of who won or lost. Refocus on what we must do next for our children. Remember we must do this together, united in support of the one treasure that is most important – our children.

No one is coming to do this for us. It’s up to us. Let’s get going.

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