Enlightening the World

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.

“Which is?”

“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”

Powerful ideas.

The Message

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.

Taking a Break


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  1. #1 by Kathy P on November 25, 2011 - 10:38 am

    He sure has more wisdom to share than many of us do, that’s for sure! You rock, Clay, and I DO think you are going to go far in this world!

  2. #2 by Char Brandl on November 25, 2011 - 12:06 pm

    Clay, this is wonderful! Many of the young people with whom I type have shared similar messages. I do believe all of you have so much wisdom to share with the world – if we would only slow down and really listen! Keep up the great work – and keep typing with Dad!!!!

  3. #3 by autismmommytherapist on November 25, 2011 - 12:38 pm

    Clay, it’s so wonderful to be able to “hear” some of your thoughts. You and your family are truly inspiring!

  4. #4 by Coleen McDonnell on November 25, 2011 - 5:22 pm

    Wow I’m impressed. Clay I think someday you will write a book.

  5. #5 by Lynda, Beacon, NY on November 26, 2011 - 12:25 pm

    Clay you are adding to my understanding of the obstacles and challenges autism present..in so many different ways. You are going to become a wonderful writer..your thoughts are heartfelt. Dad and Clay…Thank you for sharing your experiences.

  6. #6 by much31 on November 26, 2011 - 11:43 pm

    I loved reading this!

  7. #7 by Amy Murphy on November 29, 2011 - 7:26 pm

    Please keep the advice coming! I recently brought my brother to see Lisa, and he sure did have a lot to say. I taught my other brother how to facilitate it with him, and he actually is better at it then me. So, dad, I sympathize with you in your obstacle to learn and be good at it. I know my brother is great, and has a lot to say, and I just want to spend every minute listening to him, but we need to practice together, and I need to learn how to get better at it. He typed that it’s easy to type with Timmy but hard with Amy (me). It’s so discouraging, but I will not give up. I like the wording you used to describe your wife, his ” most tenacious advocate”, which is how I view myself. Keep up the good work, all of you. And I welcome any advice you have for us newbies 🙂 Thank you for your knowledge, and for sharing your story.

    • #8 by Larry Blumenthal on November 30, 2011 - 7:16 am

      Glad you find Clay’s experience helpful, Amy. Our best advice is to just stick with it. As Clay puts it, people with autism are “intelligent beings in unintelligent bodies.” Helping him share his intelligence through typing has been an amazing experience. I’m sure your brother feels the same way.

    • #9 by Roe on November 30, 2011 - 8:14 am

      Hi Amy…tenacious advocate here :). There is a Yahoo Group called FCWorld that you should consider joining. I’ve learned so much from some of the people, especially Richard Attfield, an adult who began using FC but now types independently. He wrote a chapter in the book “Autism and the Myth and the Person Alone” which, if you haven’t read, you should definitely check out. Richard and some of the other adult typers provide great insight into sensory, motor planning and vision issues that affect their ability to type independently for long periods of time. I was nervous in the beginning but told myself to get over it for Clay’s sake. If I can do it, so you can you!

  8. #10 by Cassie Bryant on December 4, 2011 - 2:50 pm

    Hello from PSU!
    I just wanted to thank you for all of your posts, they’re so interesting and so much fun to read! It’s nice to be able to catch up with you and your family! This post in particular is one of my favorites. It’s so interesting to see what he had to say and it was so insightful! I was able to share this with one of my classes (we touched on communication) and everyone was really interested in it and we all appreciate your posts! Keep them coming! I hope all is well and tell Clay I said hello and I miss him!
    Cassie B

    • #11 by Roe on December 5, 2011 - 7:33 am

      Great to hear from you, Cassie! Thanks for staying in touch and sharing the blog at school. I’ll tell Clay you said “hi!”

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