Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Teaching Lilli to Type

It takes a little time sometimes
To get your feet back on the ground
It takes a little time sometimes
To get the Titanic turned back around
It takes a little time sometimes
But baby you're not going down
It takes more than you've got right now
Give it, give it time
(Amy Grant & Wayne Kirkpatrick)

I heard this song on the radio one day when Lilli was about four years old. This was one of those "turning point – moments" in my life. At that time, I had been so discouraged about her lack of progress in therapy. I had such high hopes for her to learn to do things, but I felt like people thought we were crazy to think she would ever run, talk, or learn to do things for herself. Plus, we kept taking steps backward every time she had a bad seizure or got really sick. I pulled in the driveway and sat there, with tears as I listened to the lyrics. I remember thinking that it was a sweet message from God, to have hope and faith.

This is going to be my new theme song of Lilli's life, I thought. It takes a little time. Give it time.

In hindsight I can now see that Lilli does learn many things, but quite simply, it takes much longer than we would expect a typical child to take. It takes a lot of faith and encouragement to keep going. For example, she did not start to run, really RUN until after we moved here when she was five. You should see her now. I can hardly catch her. I wish every parent of a young child with developmental delays would be encouraged that even though it "takes a little time sometimes," you just have to give it time and keep trying. 

Speaking of something we are spending time on…I am so excited to share about how Lilli is learning to type. We are just at the beginning of this chapter. I have many hopes in posting this. One hope is that everyone will cheer Lilli on, and pray earnestly for her and for all of us who are working with her, as she learns to type, spell, read, and hopefully communicate in this way. We need prayer. This is a long road.

Another hope is that teachers, therapists, or parents of kids with special needs might see this and be inspired to try it with a child they know.

Finally, I hope that every person who reads this and views these videos will see faith in action. "Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." I absolutely believe that Lilli is going to be able to communicate clearly with us someday. I am constantly praying that she will speak. But perhaps this will be a way she can "speak," through writing. We believe God has put all of these things in place for us to do this. And now, we just do it, and wait. We have the teacher, the ABA therapist, the ipad. We have no guarantees. There is no "expert" telling us that if we do this a certain way, it will definitely be a success. We only have hope and faith that this will work, and that all of our many hours of hard work will not be in vain.

As for the typing…there was no set "typing program." In an earlier post, I described how I simply viewed a Youtube video, and was inspired to start teaching Lilli how to type. Our "Lilli Typing Program" began with my research on kid-friendly keyboards.

First, Lilli's totally awesome public school provided her a touch screen monitor that we hooked up to our laptop. She learned how to do the website with the touch screen. That helped her practice using her pointer finger and aim at specific parts of the screen. Before that, she had been randomly hitting the screen with no real purpose. Then, we bought a Leap Frog Click Start. We worked on typing her name and short words like "Go." Then the school purchased an ipad for her. (BTW, this school is not overflowing with money, they just DO what they think kids really need). She learned quickly to do the Starfall app on the ipad. We found the app called "Typing Bee." The school bought the app "Proloquo2Go" for her to use. All of these things combined have helped us get to the point where we are now. Anyone can think of what a child likes, and use it to help them learn. That is all we've done. We capitalize on things that motivate Lilli, and use them to teach her new things.

I made alphabet cards with Velcro to stick on a board. Lilli loves the sound of Velcro; it is motivating to her. She pays attention to the letter cards. She tolerates the hand over hand. She seems very interested in the whole process. The ABA therapist and the homebound teacher are both working on typing. They do it in a different, but complimentary way. The ABA therapist is working on the same two words over and over, to teach Lilli to do it independently. We use special cling stickers I found online to highlight the letters on the keyboard. Lilli is only typing two words with the ABA therapist right now; "bus" and "star." They watch a Youtube clip of "Wheels on the Bus" and "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" as motivators. They do this many times every day. The goal is to get Lilli to type these two words on her own. Here is a clip of Lilli working with the ABA therapist on typing:

The teacher is helping Lilli to type many words each day. She has a set list that they type each day in the same order, as they watch different Youtube movies. Lilli likes Baby Einstein movies, so the teacher chooses objects shown in the movie clips to type about. The teacher does not use the keyboard stickers because she helps Lilli type so many different words. She is working more on reading, spelling, and word recognition. This also helps Lilli get familiar with where letters are on the keyboard. Here is a clip of Lilli working on typing with the teacher:

We have been working on typing for six months. If you count Lilli learning to use the touchscreen before that, it's been a few years. Someone might watch this video or read this post and think, "That poor mom is in denial. Six months and they are still holding her hand and making that girl touch each letter! That is not typing! They are doing it FOR her!" Well, let me shake my head and tell that person that we have spent years teaching Lilli to do various things. Six months is nothing. Bring on the hard work, because we are ALL IN. We are doing this. And I cannot WAIT to post a video of Lilli typing a word by herself someday.

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