Monday, November 21, 2011

I Think She Just Said “Hi”

We are in an odd place right now. The rest of the world might think I am deluded. And maybe I am. But if I am, then so is the ABA therapist, and the teacher too. Lilli is really learning how to spell and type by herself. I don't know why I am so incredulous some days. I was the one who believed she could do it in the first place.

Last night, I was sitting with her on the couch. Jasen had the other two kids playing outside, and Lilli and I were having a rare quiet moment together. I bought a few new apps and I was teaching them to her, hand over hand. It was enjoyable for both of us, because she craves alone time with me but gets interrupted so often by her siblings. I pulled up Proloquo2go (her communication app) and typed out a few words and sentences. I helped Lilli type a few words she knows well. Then I said, "Ok Lilli, you type something to me. Anything you want to say. Go ahead!"

I held her arm, but not her hand. Try to imagine if you were loosely holding someone's arm as they type. Would you be able to control the letters they type? Maybe you could control their arm to a general area of the keyboard, but think about this. The keyboard on the Proloquo app is slightly smaller than the keyboard on our laptop. And, it's a flat screen. Pretty hard to have someone type a word correctly unless you have their actual hand, or fingers.

She typed the word "hi." Then she hit the "speak" button.

I said, "Hi! Wow Lilli, you said hi to me! Good job!" But I thought it was chance. A nice accident. H and i are near each other. I'll take it, I thought. Even if it was a happy mistake, I want to encourage her.

"Type something else, Lilli!" and I took her arm again.

Again she typed "hi."Then moved up to the speak button. I instantly started to second guess and wondered if I had made her do it. But as I said before, it is pretty hard to lead her fingers to the "h" and the "i" while loosely holding the middle of her arm. Then there is the clear movement of her arm away from the keyboard up to the speak button, which signals that she knows the word is complete.

Up until now there have been many of these moments where all of us are thinking Lilli is typing on her own but with our slight guidance. I don't care for this analogy, but it seems a little like the ouija board experience, where you cannot tell whose hand is making it move. But this is, uh, pretty different, because there is no chance that an evil spirit is typing the answers here.

The difference last night was the fact that I did not know what she was going to type before she did it. We are usually telling her what words to type. For example, before she typed "hi," I had typed the word "bird" and helped her copy it. She could see how to spell "bird" because I typed it first and put it up top. But when she typed "hi" I had no idea what she was going to say. Twice.

I said we were doing this with faith. I wonder why it is so surprising sometimes when our prayers DO get answered. Even big ones that seem impossible. I'm so glad our God specializes in making the seemingly impossible things become possible.


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