Sunday was going to be an amazing day for a lot of reasons, but I couldn’t have predicted the most incredible part.
The incredible part was at the end. The news I thought would be big was that IT arrived.
IT was the gift of a new HP TouchPad. I know iPad is king in the autism world, but the TouchPad makes a bit more sense in our corner of that world. The twins having been drawing and typing on my HP touch screen notebook for a few years. If the notebook was rugged enough for Daniel to stand on and write on, then the TouchPad had to be for us.
To say that Rachel took to it like a fish to water would be a bit understated.
While Rachel was busy unpacking it and helping me figure out ther virtual keyboard, Daniel was busy writing on his old magnetic board. He often writes the titles or credits of his favourite videos, but from memory. A couple of weeks ago, while sitting through Cars 2, he started writing words as they appeared on the screen. This was new.
This new activity continued on Sunday while Daniel was watching a Baby Einstein video about the seasons.
A little while later, he took my hand to ask me to go upstairs with him. When I asked “upstairs,” he repeated “upstairs.” Outside his room, I said “open door” and he came right back with “open door.’
This little interaction of three words carries a lot of importance with it. First, Daniel has made a huge transition from being non-verbal to being echolalic, or responding by repeating what he has heard. This is similar to how he writes.
Second, “open door” is Daniel’s first two word request.
Compare how long a parent normally waits for a child to talk and add four or five years to it. Daniel’s first word came 5 years ago. The piece of evidence that finally convinced his mother and the family doctor that Daniel could be autistic was pointing to the fact that Daniel stopped using speech just about the time he turned two.
Four years later, Daniel’s request to “open door” is a wonderful milestone we have all been waiting for.
But Daniel wasn’t done.
An hour later, when it was getting dark, he stood up and said “bathtime.”
The cliche I can use here is that I could have been knocked over by a feather. Daniel has only one other unprompted command or request in his vocabulary and that is “come” followed by pointing to the face of the person whom he wants to do something or get something.
He repeated bathtime several times as he marched up the stairs to the bathroom.
We don’t know when our special kids will make a given moment memorable. There is certainly no way to have predicted that this past Sunday was to be the day that Daniel would demonstrate amazing new communication abilities.
The big news turned out not to be what I expected. The TouchPad is going to be an exciting tool, but not on the day it arrived. Daniel speaking and being understandable trumped that on Sunday.