Type It Out
Note: Grab a coffee, this post has donuts! No, really. Keep reading.
By Cathy Jameson
Ronan can sign his basic wants and needs. He can type them out also. We continue to pray that he will one day regain speech, but until that happens we encourage Ronan to communicate in ways he’s able to.
One night last week, when he couldn’t sleep, he came to my room and sat on the edge of my bed. He’s a quiet kind of guy, unless his favorite songs or movies are playing. Then, Ronan can be really REALLY loud – to the point the kids will politely move him and his ipad to another room. They don’t want to squash his happiness; they just don’t want to hear all of that happiness right next to them. When Ronan came and sat on my bed, he was exceptionally quiet. I knew he wanted something but couldn’t figure out what. My laptop was open, so I quickly asked Ronan to type to me. The prompt I gave him was, Hey, Ronan, what do you want?
mom my lijke ipad
ronan, it's bedtime
mom my like ipad
it's too late to play. it's time for bed.
mom my like ipad
you can play on the ipad in the morning. it's very late, so it's bedtime now.
mom my like ipad
no, thank you.
mom my like ipad
I bet you figured out Ronan’s responses were the ones that are italicized. I do love that he was consistent – not just with his request but with the use of lowercase letters. I will type quick, informal notes to close friends and family in lowercase as well. I also love that Ronan quickly corrected the word like all by himself. I’m curious why he chose to type my instead of I though. He’s correctly used I for many, many years with his signs, while typing and when he attempts to speak (it comes out /ah/ for I).
it's 10:34. time to go back to bed.
sorry, bud. you can have it tomorrow.
mom my like ipad
I was hoping Ronan would tell me something else that night, but he stayed laser focused on one thing - that ipad. It took some convincing, but I eventually got him to return to his room and go to bed.
The next night, Ronan again came to my room.
Ronan, what do you want? It’s late again. It’s 10:29 pm.
mom my donuts
you want a donut?
Are you hungry?
Okay, thank you for telling me.
If one of my other kids came in that late at night asking for a donut, I wouldn't have been so accommodating. But Ronan gets a free pass - and some yummy donuts (which are actually gluten-free donut holes from Katz).
We tiptoed downstairs because of how late it was. Ronan watched me take four small donut holes out of the freezer, place them in a bowl and heat them up in the toaster oven. Five minutes later, Ronan heard the toaster oven ding. I looked at Ronan. He looked at me. So as to continue the typed conversation we'd started, I asked...
Are your donuts ready?
It may not be very detailed, but Ronan's late-night messages were pretty clear. Telegraphic speech, or telegraphic communication in this case, gave him the chance to tell me exactly what he wanted. As tired as I was the next night, I was hoping Ronan would again come to my room and tell me something else. He didn't. Instead of another late night, Ronan was up the next morning at 5:48am. He tends to sleep later than the rest of us do, so it was rather painful for me to be woken up that early. Ronan was not interested in typing that morning, so we just started our breakfast routine, 3 hours ahead of his usual schedule. By nightfall, Ronan was pretty exhausted. I could only get one short request from him, and this one only after lots of prompting.
mom play eat sleep
Ronan had been playing on the Switch before sitting on the couch with the siblings. Since it was Friday night, the big kids had gathered in the den to watch a movie. Movie night turns into raid the kitchen night, to include raiding both the snack cabinet and the refrigerator. While they were having a grand time back on the couch, they forget to keep an eye on the kitchen. Ronan went in after them looking for his donuts (the last of the donut holes). He really wanted them. But he knew he’d need help heating them up, so he found me in the office where I was catching up on some paperwork.
I greeted him as he sat down on the piano bench.
He didn’t want to type so he signed instead.
"Oh, bud. Of course. Let's get some cereal."
Ronan stood up, so I followed him. He loves cereal, but he wanted something else. Leading me into the kitchen, I saw that he, too, had joined the raid. The freezer door was wide open.
"OH! The donuts?"
It's fun to see the emotion in the simple signs Ronan uses. His signed YES was just the happiest yes. He had already started to get tired, but he really wanted to have that snack with the kids. While I warmed up the donut holes, Ronan watched me. The movie was blaring just behind us, but he concentrated so quietly on what I was doing. Besides those late-night typing chats, it had been awhile since Ronan wanted to say something. I love that he picked me to help him. Had I shooed him away any of those times he came to me, we both would’ve lost out. We’d have lost out on effective communication encounters. And we would’ve missed moments that filled his belly with a few donut holes and ones that filled my heart with simple joy.
Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.
So it's late to play but he is awake, why punish him even more when he is severely autistic/vaccine injured? What's going to bed on time going to do for him, is he going to be late for work or something? I just don't get why people are being strict with devices disabled children want to go on that's sometimes their only out and a parent wants to take that away, come on already you darn well know or should that taking away his toys or devices that give him an escape isn't going to do anything but make him wonder why is he getting punished or why did you do that. I see this with other people as well, makes zero sense. I let my son entertain himself on his computer, let him imagine being there or whatever it maybe at least he's stimulating his brain like a therapy, maybe the best one so why would I want to stop it.
Posted by: Joejoe | June 12, 2022 at 11:48 AM
Cathy-thank you for sharing your wonderful story about how well Ronan is expressing his needs and thoughts to you by typing and signing. You are a wonderful mom to him and are there for all his needs and desires. I am also the mom of an adult son with autism and feel the same devotion to his needs and desires as you do, We are both doing our best to make our special sons feel happy and loved. God Bless our beautiful sons.
Posted by: Gayle | June 12, 2022 at 11:04 AM
Thank you for sharing your beautiful story. So happy he can type the basics. Our Sam has not started typing yet, but we are so happy when he grunts" I want" pointing to his GF, Dairy Free, Soy Free, everything free, Cookies. He also says(grunts)" Yummy I like" when he really likes something. These are the miracles that keep us going!. Blessings to you and your family from Texas. Have a great summer!
Posted by: Gerardo Martinez | June 12, 2022 at 09:52 AM