“Don’t forget his iPad,” wifey says.
“I won’t,” I say.
When Dar goes out, he brings his iPad. To be clearer, I bring his iPad. The goal is to integrate into more of his life.
The good news is that Dar is pushing the icon buttons on his iPad like never before, like it’s going out of style.
The bad news is that Dar is pushing the icon buttons on his iPad like never before, like it’s going out of style.
He pushes them seemingly at random, just to hear the sound of the program’s Siri-like voice. But I have to treat them all as though he means them. I have to “honor that,” as we say in the profession.
He presses the icon for GRAPES.
“We don’t have that,” I say.
“Not available. We have strawberries. Want one?”
“Oh you want bean soup? We definitely have that.”
(Moving to fridge) “Let me get that out for you.”
(Getting spoon) “Here you go!”
“Unnnh!” (meaning no)
“You just said you wanted this!”
“You want orange juice?”
“You want apple juice?”
“Let me get you that.”
Takes me a minute to open the cabinet and pop the straw into the box. But he takes it and drinks it, always.
In an ideal world, we could look at this the way we look at a singer before the show going “me-me-ME-me-me-meeee.” Or any kid testing the parameters of a new toy. But that’s the ideal world. In this world, it’s not entirely clear if Dar means what he’s typing. Utterly ignoring him, or not “honoring,” isn’t a solution.
“Okay, hang on.”
“Which one do you want?”
“Do you want Cheerios, Goldfish crackers, or gummi bears?”
“Last time I got you…”
“…a pouch, you didn’t touch it.”
“Are you serious?”
“I know you’ll eat that.”
“I also know…”
“…that you’ll think of something else.”
“Still not available.”
“You want banana? We have that.”
“Hold on, let me…”
“You want milk?” Many times in this situation, I pour him a little; he consistently refuses to touch the stuff.
“Still not available.”
“How about once more, with feeling?”
Here’s where I make him do things. He has to earn sweet snacks. So I make him touch body parts, or fill in the blank with certain sentences, or answer “What’s your name?” or “How old are you?” The verbal approximations aren’t great, but they are adequate enough for this. Out in the real world, if a stranger says “How old are you?” and he says “Ks,” I doubt the stranger will say “Oh you must mean six!”
“You brush your…”
“You read a…”
I give him a gummi.
Dar is actually supposed to type “I” and then “want” before each thing. But you know, if your neuro-typical child said “TV!” instead of “I want TV!” you’d probably know what she meant.
This one he means. I know that.
“Hold on Dar, coming.”
I unlock the back door and let him out. He tries to take my hand.
“Ah-ah-ah! If you want me to come, what do you type?” I show him the iPad screen.
“You just got that. Now there’s something else, for me to come with you.”
I direct his hand to the button I want him to press.
UNDER THE LANAI.
Sounds odd, I realize. He wants me to walk to the place, under our lanai (deck), where he throws all of his toys over a fence that he’s too short to reach over. He wants me to pick up one of them; I’m not too short.
“Okay Dar, now that you said Under the Lanai, I can come.”
We walk over there. Dar says “puh-tuh.”
This is bass-ackwards. I want him to point to what he wants. So I say to him “point.” He repeats it. Actually, in this case, he says it in advance, because he’s so used to me directing it.
I say, “Dar, you have to point.”
I model his hand. It’s hard for him to point to anything, much less what he wants. So no, my child is not the equivalent of a mute.
“Show me on the iPad, Dar.”
Once I get us to the toy board, this often goes well.
“Oh, you want your action figure? Sure.”
I get it from under the lanai and give it to him. Other times he’ll ask for beads, or a toy dog, or whatever else is under there. The good news is that he doesn’t usually ask for things that aren’t there.
After I give it to him, he just walks around the backyard and stims on it. Was all of this simply so we could have something to talk about? Maybe. But if I try to pick up an action figure and play pretend with him, or toss around a ball with him, he’ll just laugh and walk away.
“You are home.”
“You are home.”
“You are home, Dar.”
He’s been loving this button lately. It’s interesting because it’s both a name for the house we live in, and also the “home screen” of the talker program. Obviously we worried about this before, and separated them. We want him to call his domicile of residence “house.” But we left a button with an iconic picture of a red “home” all the same. There is yet another button on the bottom of his screen that looks like a house and that, when pressed, takes him to the home screen without making noise. He knows that one. He uses that one. So when he presses the red icon, we have to assume he’s just celebrating being at the place where he lives?
Okay, Dar, got it.