From writing about Charlie so much online I have become even more aware of the difference between what I say about him, and who he is—who he really is. I don’t know how Charlie would represent himself, would think best to represent himself, or how. It’s very easy for a parent to be presumptive—-and very hard to discern where to let go and let be.
I wrote this as part of comment on an Autism Vox post on Ashley, the nine-year-old Seattle area girl who has been in the news much of late for this, in the wake of an exchange of comments among disability self-advocates and parents of disabled children.
I do not write here as much as I might like to about Charlie’s speech because, while he talks more and more clearly than he ever has, Charlie is a boy of few words, for whom (I more and more think) language is not his preferred mode of self-expression.
At a meeting tonight with his home ABA autism therapists, I asked Charlie’s coordinator about what she thought about a writing program. She had observed him in school last week and we talked about how best to proceed—Charlie is learning to tickle the ivories, but his long fingers drape themselves awkwardly around a pencil. His home coordinator noted that Charlie’s teacher had mentioned a program used throughout his school (for the non-autistic students, too) to learn typing.
“Great,” I said.
Perhaps we can show Charlie how typing on a keyboard is rather like playing on the piano…..
I kid you not: Charlie was singing the horn line for Tips of My Fingers tonight. We had been listening to it in the car on the way back home. As the sounds came from the CD player, Charlie—–anxiously calling—-“Daddy b’ue bankett”—stopped talking and listened.
Let handwriting come when it will, as Charlie’s speech is slowly emerging: Our first task is to keep trying to teach Charlie new and better ways to get his message across.