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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