Heading to our second session with supported typing teacher Lisa Romaine this past Saturday, we were just expecting an hour of working on Clay’s typing skills. The little guy had bigger ideas.
We started, as usual, with a few minutes in the play area to get the kinks out following a two-hour drive. Then Clay headed into the work room, where he spent most of the session typing one statement. He started with this, as Lisa blocked him against the wall to type:
“the way i see it is i am going to be famous some day people will look to me for advice about all things autism i am excited about the enormous potential to improve society”
Quite a start. He needed two or three breaks to wander the room while working on this manifesto. It looked like he was playing cat and mouse with Lisa, but she explained afterwards that it was likely his way of gathering his thoughts and getting his body ready to type.
“How are you going to do that?” Lisa asked, when they finally settled on adjacent chairs, a sign that he was ready.
“i will make people understand the truth,” he typed.
“that we are trulhy the intelligent beings in unintelligent bodies i want everyone to be enlightened just my own thinking we are responsible for our future”
More wandering. More gathering of thoughts.
“How are you going to take charge of that?”
“the angst that we share binds our souls in responsibility to mankind”
After a break, I requested time typing with the great philosopher. He and I have not done nearly as well as he and his Mom. It seemed that he didn’t want to type with me, just lapsing into gibberish as a way to get me out of his face. Lisa knew better. I just needed some pointers to better support his efforts.
So, we spent about 10 minutes doing a spelling exercise together. With some instruction from Lisa, I worked on supporting him more effectively and applying the right resistance. (Contrary to the way it looks, supported typing is mostly about pulling the typer back from the keyboard, providing the resistance he or she needs for control as they push toward the keys. You never, never lead.) We zipped right through some tough long words, using an app called Spellingzap on his iPad.
Afterwards, in need of feedback from the little man himself, I asked Clay how I did.
“better than i expected dad,” he typed.
Not sure how to take that, exactly. But I’m glad we are on the road to typing together, too. It is a tough road Clay has laid out for himself, a long journey with a lot of obstacles, but Clay has wisdom to share and ambitious plans. I want to be one of his traveling companions.