Sandy, a nonverbal student with autism, displayed significant sensory, movement, and auditory processing problems. Expecting competence and talking to him at a soul level seemed to have a profound effect. In contrast, he continued to demonstrate difficulty following basic concrete verbal directives. He remained dependent on visual cues such as pictures, signs, and/or gestures.
Early on, Sandy pulled my hand to point to simple choices in his communication book. He could not make these selections on his own. When Sandy began working from a field of choices, initially, he would hold my hand and take me to the correct response. One day, instead of holding my right hand with his right hand and using me as a tool to aid his selection, he grabbed my right hand with his left hand, as he made selections, unaided with his right hand. He still needed physical contact with me, but he did not need me to hold the hand he was selecting the correct answers with anymore. Eventually, he let go of the left hand too. If he was sitting in close proximity, he could accurately select appropriate word cards by name, by function, and as a response to questions asked. Often he would give me the correct response before I had time to finish asking the question.
His answers were accurate and instantaneous when selecting responses in words. He was less accurate if the response was in picture format. The most errors were made when he was expected to choose three-dimensional objects. Did it occur because words are constant, but pictures are more varied, and three-dimensional objects differ even more? Is it possible that sending the image of a three-dimensional object is perceived differently between sender and receiver? (E.g. Like many others, if I were seated and asked him to give me the word “ruler,” he would be fast and accurate. But if I asked him to hand me a picture of a ruler, his accuracy, although still good, was somewhat diminished. If I asked for the actual ruler, he would have the most difficult time. To further complicate issues, if I asked him to get up to get a ruler on my desk a few feet away, as soon as he stood up, he would be lost-unless I showed him a picture of the ruler or gave it to him as he was walking there.) When gross motor movements were involved, all circuits seemed to shut down.
Sandy learned to use PECS (Picture Exchange System) and voice output communication devices independently during snack time. Also, he was fluent when making basic requests based on routines, nonetheless, responding to questions demanded “agent” proximity. In addition, he could not write or draw on his own, however, he could move my hand to do so if I held the writing utensil.
As Sandy’s motor skills improved, he could type letter for letter and word for word what I was consciously “sending” him if I held the keyboard. When we “joined” in what I refer to as “conscious surrender”. Sandy’s messages were often spiritual. It was difficult to determine where the information was coming from. Individuals I have used FC with or supported by holding the keyboard as thy hit the keys independently seem to share my vocabulary and knowledge base, but not my writing style.
One morning, I was astonished during the morning talk; I asked Sandy what day it was as I held out a keyboard. I expected him to type “Friday”. Instead, he typed Frank Logan, the name of a deceased parent of a former student of mine. The student had been in my class eight years prior in a different state. (His father had died suddenly. His son was a student in my classroom at the time and his mother had requested that I try to explain it to him.) After Sandy typed the letters “f r a n”, of the name, admittedly this man’s name popped into my head as Sandy continued to type “Frank Logan”. Sandy typed a message about his son.
Stunned, I asked another nonverbal student who was sitting next to Sandy if he could explain what had just occurred. I held the keyboard as he typed, “Sandy is a catalyst for dead people.” I then asked, “How about you?” He replied, “No, that is Sandy’s thing.” I then held the keyboard in front of Sandy. Remembering, that on several prior occasions, he had typed “Jesus”, I muttered, ” You don’t channel Jesus, do you? As close as I can remember, he typed, ” No, Jesus great friend, I can step aside and let the great heart of Jesus speak through me just as you can step aside and let me speak through you. It is just a matter of stepping down of vibration.”
Since Sandy, like many others had repeatedly proven that he was sensitive to my mental prompts, I once again was unable to determinable as to what was coming from him, what was coming from me, what might have come from joining our subconscious minds, what might be coming from Spirit/higher levels of consciousness/the universal cognitive field. Nonetheless, I am humbled and impressed with anyone of the possibilities.
Lessons learned from Sandy:
1. Many children may use your hand as a tool for selection.
2. Many children need physical contact or close proximity with the agent/facilitator in order to communicate.
3, Some children need visual prompts when a child has to move even if he seems to understand you while seated, yet he is lost while moving.
1. Some students may be gleaning information from the memory banks of others. Examine possibilities of the effect that your anticipatory responses may have.
2. Some messages may be coming from the subconscious, spirit world, or a universal cognitive field.
3. Saying all information is “definitely” coming from the person who types without any outside influence is not true in my experience. I cannot speak for others.