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Just My Type

A mom of two children with autism writes about her her eldest child communicates with her.

 

It was the tiniest thing. Three little letters, “M”, “O”, and “M” respectively, all painstakingly typed on the iPad keyboard by my eldest son as he worked through a mini-tantrum at home.

There wasn’t a parade, no medal nor monument was issued. His efforts didn’t magically conjure up my presence, due to a prior shopping engagement with my fabulous sister-in-law and equally fabulous niece.

The act wasn’t duly noted on CNN (or even Fox, although I feel it should have been). No fireworks ensued other than those elicited by my son momentarily when he discovered all his hard work was for naught.

After all, it was just three letters, nothing to get excited about.

Except it was, as it’s the first time Justin has ever generalized a demand from school to home on his iPad keyboard. When I heard the news I practically did a cartwheel in the middle of the Jersey Shore outlets (which frankly should have earned me a discount SOMEWHERE).

I don’t know that he’ll ever do it again. There is, of course, the annoying little voice plaguing me saying since he wasn’t reinforced for the effort it won’t reoccur (but I slapped that little voice silly as I REFUSE to pair shopping with anything negative).

There is also the knowledge that even if he wasn’t devastated that I didn’t come to his immediate rescue from his father and the fun babysitter, he still might never ask for me again.

I killed that little voice too. I’m on a roll.

No, in keeping with a new year coming in and all that jazz, I’m taking a positive spin on this one. His teachers have been working diligently to get him to type, in part because we are all in agreement that this may be his sole method of communication over his lifetime, and in part because his handwriting is almost as execrable as his mother’s.

He’s made similar progress at home as he’s done in class, but we still hadn’t achieved that leap from telling him what to say (he spells and reads fabulously, so no coaching for most words necessary), to having him tell us like it is on his own.

That is, until Black Friday. It truly is a magical day.

So fingers are crossed that 2013 ushers in an entire new world for Justin, a journey I know will begin with simple forays into conversation, and will end no one truly knows where. The really exciting part is that my son left his snack on the table (abandoning food in this family is serious business), searched out his iPad in a different room, and controlled his angst long enough to ask for what he wanted.

It’s been a long nine years (that is an understatement), but he’s finally learned enough self-control to put his emotions aside and try to get his needs met through typical means. I couldn’t have been more proud if he then followed his request up with “Mom sucks”.

Because at that moment, in his world, I did. In my world however, I was haggling over earring prices with a harried sales assistant and having a blast.

As Thanksgiving weekend concludes I have to say I am incredibly grateful for so many things, but sometimes it’s the tiny packages that capture my attention. This is one of them. And my hope for all of you, especially those of you with special needs children, is that many of those pivotal moments are out there around the corner, waiting for you to recognize them soon.

It was just three little letters.

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