Tag Archives: Skype

EEEEEEEEEEEEE!

EEEEEEEEEE!!!!   (This is, but one, of many fabulous expressions I have come to love and use.  I first saw it used by my friend Paula and it made me happy.  I love that woman.)  What better way to express emotions that go far beyond “excitement”?  What words can possibly express joy and excitement and exuberance and that feeling when your throat constricts and tears flood your eyes and there’s that fluttering feeling in your chest that travels up and down as your vision blurs because of the tears?  Tears of joy.  Tears of overwhelming emotion that are impossible to express, that makes it difficult to breathe.  I don’t know of anything I could write here that would sum up what I am feeling.  EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!   ⇐ comes the closest.

Yesterday was our second session with Pascal who is a trained facilitator of more than two decades.  Our first session I described ‘here‘.  Yesterday’s session took place over Skype.  It took us a while to get connected and once we did our connection kept going out on us.  At one point during a particularly exciting moment with Emma I squealed in delight, looked over to see Pascal’s expression and was met with a blank screen.  We’d lost him again.  “NOOOOOOO!  I cannot believe you just missed this!”  I shouted at the darkened screen while Joe, Emma’s therapist, and Richard laughed.  Our excitement was palpable.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Let me back up.

Two weeks ago we had our first session.  It was beyond exciting, but in the interim, between that session and our Skype call yesterday I’ve been filled with anxiety and so have only tried to practice with Emma a couple of times.  (For those of you unfamiliar with facilitated communication, it has a complicated history.  That history I’ve touched upon ‘here‘ and ‘here‘.)  I worried that I would inadvertently push Emma to type something she didn’t intend, I worried that I might betray her, by literally putting words in her mouth.  I have never forgotten one of the things Amy Sequenzia said to me regarding FC – that the most important piece was trust.  I didn’t want to do anything that would betray that, so I did nothing at all.

The first thing Pascal did was cover some of the basics.  We went over different things I could try.  We discussed the correct way of providing support firmly enough to ensure that trust, but not so much that it becomes a vise grip or so loosely that it is little more than an irritant.  Getting the support right is key and not as easy as it might sound.  There is also the resistance piece to all of this and there’s a rhythm that must be achieved as well.  The process is unlike anything I’ve ever done before.  I want to liken it to dancing, not the sort of dancing one does in a mosh pit, but ballroom dancing or learning the mambo, where you have to be in sync with your partner, both with your physical movements, but with your mind as well.  I’ve had some wonderful FC advisors (other moms who have generously talked to me and given me tips from their experiences doing FC) and so I remembered some of their suggestions.  One, from a new friend, Sheree, told me I need to empty my mind.  For anyone familiar with Buddhism this sounds much easier than it actually is.  But when I felt myself wanting to push Emma to hit a certain letter on the iPad, I “told on myself” immediately and Pascal would gently advise me.

As our session continued and I became more comfortable, feeling the rhythm and getting the right sense of her, we went beyond Emma typing answers to questions such as, “Where are they ice skating?” after being shown a photograph of ice skaters at the ice rink in Rockefeller Center and her dutifully typing Rockefeller Center (which I don’t mean to sound blasé about because you have no idea how  HUGE this was, but it was nothing compared to what happened next!)  We moved on to increasingly challenging questions, like “What is the name of the airport we have to fly into before we fly to Granma’s house?”  She typed “Denver” and I gasped.  *I keep wanting to tell you, to describe to you how massive this is.  I want to explain to you that while it may seem small or even utterly unexciting to you, it was beyond exciting for me to see her respond in this way.*  I don’t think I’ve ever heard Emma say the word “Denver” before and while this is something she has heard many, many times in her life; it is a place we must fly to several times a year when we go visit Granma, it is not something I expect Emma to utter.

Pascal continued to ask Emma more questions about visiting Granma and then I asked, without really thinking, “What kind of dogs does Granma have?”  Emma pointed her index finger and then reached for the “g”.  I think I may have held my breath.  Waiting.  Empty my mind.  Wait.  And then her finger found the “e” and I let myself take a tiny breath.  Keep breathing I told myself.  Keep breathing.  Quiet mind.  Be with her.  Let go.  Be with her.  Open mind.  Breathe.  And then her finger found the “r” and on we went until she’d written “german shepherds” complete with the “s” at the end because there are two and of course she’s correct and I sat there and stared at those words; the two most beautiful words my daughter has ever typed and I looked at her and pressed my forehead to her cheek.  I cannot convey the feelings.  Gratitude.  Joy, unbelievable joy and something else…  something I don’t know that I have the words for.  A knowing.  That’s all I can say.  I deep knowing that this is the right road we’ve taken.  We are on the right road.  And I exhaled and asked, “Em.  What kind of dog is Dozer?”  Emma looked at me and said, “Last time.”  And I laughed and hugged her and said, “Oh Em.  Really?  I want to talk to you like this all day!”  Emma beamed at me and then she patted my knee.  “Okay Em.  Last time,” I said. Then she typed, “nufandland.”

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

*Cannot type through the tears.

Dozer with Emma, who is terrified of dogs and yet…

Dozer&Em

Excitement, Impatience and Waiting

The day before Thanksgiving a facilitator, P. came over to work with Emma.  I met P. at the AutCom Conference in October and asked him for some guidance in helping Emma communicate more effectively through typing.  And while Emma is verbal, she can voice basic desires, has even begun to comment on things going on around her, she has not communicated more complex thoughts.  I know Emma is intelligent with a great many ideas and interests.  I want to help her express herself in whatever way proves most advantageous, whether that is verbally, through typing or some other, still unknown, way.   I want to help her be a full participant in this world so that she can have choices and options available to her.

P. has facilitated people for several decades, so I felt confident he would be able to help me learn how I can help Emma better and was excited to have him work directly with her while I watched.  We started with a number of apps, Emma had no trouble pointing, using her index finger to match words with images that she knows.  But in the past when it comes to typing an idea, Em will usually type, “yes” or “no” and then repeat the question, which is what she was taught to do with her most recent literacy program.  I am hoping Emma can be encouraged to move beyond that.

As P. worked with her, slowing her down so she couldn’t simply repeat what had been asked, holding her arm at the elbow, putting up some resistance to her desire to type quickly, reminding her to write what she was thinking, asking if that’s what she meant, I felt tremendous hope.  P. asked Em to bring a book she liked.  She brought him a collection of fairy tales and plopped the large book on the table in front of him.  Em chose to discuss Goldilocks and the three bears.  Most of what was typed were fairly simple ideas about the bears and Goldilocks and the havoc Goldilocks causes (much to Em’s delight.)  But then P. asked Em what she would do if she went into her own bedroom and found baby bear in her bed, Em typed, “I would be scared and I would watch his mother.”

I read that sentence several times.  How can I describe the feelings that came with reading it?  How can I express the surge of hope I felt?  How can I possibly describe the feeling of euphoria?  This sentence, this idea was beyond what I have come to expect.  It suggested a whole other level of thinking, a thought process far beyond anything she has been able to express before.  It was a terrific idea, one I have discussed with both children during the summer months when we visit my mother in Colorado where we often see bears.  I have warned the children that if they encounter a bear, especially a mother with her cubs, to not get between them, to keep their distance, to keep their eye on the mother and to make loud noises.

But Emma wasn’t finished.  She then typed, “By the way, this is a very sad story.”  I was astonished.  I had a million questions.  Emma has never spoken this way.  Ever.  “By the way” is something both Richard and I say, both in jest as well as seriously.   Em has never uttered these words, let alone typed them.  And why does she think it’s a “sad story”?  What strikes her as sad?  Which part or does she think the whole thing is sad?  It is sad, I thought and then I Immediately went to,  I have to become trained in facilitated communication.  I have to find a way to communicate like this with Emma.  As I am not able to become trained in facilitated communication in the next 24 hours, I made an appointment to Skype with P. in another week, which feels like an eternity, and will try to do whatever I can to continue to learn so that I am better able to help my daughter become an independent communicator.

Between now and that Skype call, I am doing my best to manage my impatience, my excitement, my hopes and dreams and the reality that my daughter has a great deal to say and boy do I want to hear it all!

Em & P.

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