Monday, October 12, 2009

Ask me a Question from Donna - Re: Typing

Donna wrote me a comment:

I had the pleasure of meeting you and your mother in the hallways of your college a week or two ago. She shared your blog information with me. I have a son who is your age and who is also an "autist" as you say it. I like the way you say it.
I have been reading him parts of your blog and he appears to like to hear them. He also liked it when I read the book The Mind Tree to him and you seem to have a lot in common with the author of that book.
I think that he is about as verbal as you are, but you have a much much more useful writing skill than he does. You are also very eloquent.
I did work with him for awhile today trying to see what typing skill he has and was pleased and surprised to find that he is less intimidated by the keyboard than he used to be.
We were able to type some simple sentences together. I asked him a question; he answered; I asked him to type his answer; we sounded out words together sometimes but otherwise he found the letters on his own.
My question is this: Do you have any suggestions for moving to a place where he can type his own words without my choosing the topic (and the answer)? Of course, he may have nothing that he wants to say. Still, I feel a renewed sense that this method of communication has potential for him. I am having trouble deciding how to approach this and would really appreciate any suggestions you could give us.
Thank you,


You make me very happy today. To be able to make a difference, it means a lot. I can tell you how I learned to do it and what obstacles I face. It is a good place to start and your son can help you too to know whether he does or does not have some of what I face.

First, you need to understand, words are unnatural for autists. It is like a translation, one language to another for us. You as a neurotypical see an immediate use for words. But me as an autist, my wiring of brain works through pictures. Words are wholly inadequate to describe that mind set offering. So it takes a while for us to develop a sense of need for them. Too, there is the translation learning and filing that has to be developed and take place in our minds. Me, I've adapted by sticking a word spelling picture in my mind dictionary.

And, there is the emotion of it. I was afraid to share my thoughts would take away from me, from who I was. It does not. But you may want to tell your son as a precaution to reassure him in case he too has what was my misunderstanding.
I learned to type with spelling words. Sharing is emotion based and it was too much for me to do at the start, too anxious it made me.

Each has his own unique issues to overcome in typing. For me, I had to first share, then form my own consciousness as a separate thought process. I can read your thought through touch so I had to form a block to separate our consciousnesses.

Next, there is the sheer physical barriers to typing; it is a motor movement issue.
For me, to initiate, cross shifting, and to stop to hit each key was all a separate series of learning. To move to initiate my movement I used to feel off Mom's heartbeat. I shift with my mind; a jump with my mind moves me across center of the board now. It works, but that cue is up for more refinement. I am good with pulling back to the start point, but it is a problem for some I know.

If your son has his motor intact it will be a much easier task for him to learn to do it. Just prove it useful to him. For example, Do you want pie or ice cream for dessert? Me, I want both, but it was not in the question. So "both" becomes a useful typing word.

For me, FC helped explain my misunderstandings of reality. It opened up answers to questions I didn't know to ask at first. Finding the questions that need answers is a process of accidentally tripping over them at first.... Until you see them, and then they start to appear for you everywhere.

I know FC parents and friends read here sometimes. Please ask your FCer's if they want to add for her in answer. I will post your comments here for her. Thanks.


P.S. Mom says to tell you if you contact her at college she will give you different boards to try. Each requires different skill set and/or helps with different obstacles.

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