Typing has become Peter’s voice, providing a precious window into his thinking. What he types has confirmed what we suspected all along, that inside that faulty operating motor system is a truly gentle, beautiful little soul, doing his very best. Peter has given us so many insights into what it’s like to have autism. “I wish everything wasn’t so difficult.” “very hard. very anxious. i cant get my body to move” “(tearing) paper consumes all of my attention.” “I am sorry I hit. You must be mad. I can’t control it.” When we asked him if it’s hard to have to work so hard all the time in order to quiet the noise in his brain, he replied, “yes. yes more than you know.” Regarding typing itself, Peter typed, “typing is hard but under my conditions it does allow conversation” and ” type(ing) determined the new direction of my life.” Peter has advised us to “try to give me time to say the rest of my thought.” He empathetically added, “very hard helping but not controlling.”
Besides displaying all of this astonishing perspective taking and reflective thinking, we have discovered that Peter has sized us all up. “i do like to play around especially with mom she is so nice and kind so it is kind of funny to see her mad.” When asked if he ever tries to push Belinda’s buttons, he typed, “i dont as much because belinda does not get mad ever. she is calm saint like really.”
Indeed, as Vinh put it, we now know we have a philosopher in the family. “I want to be a person that shows the beauty that God created.” “I really want knowledge.” When asked what helps him when he feels he needs to hit, he typed, “Only giving love.” When he witnessed a peer having a meltdown, we asked him what we could do to help, and he said, “understand.”
Peter also has a theological bent. When we play-acted the story of the presentation of Eve to Adam, Peter typed for Adam to Eve, “Let’s get married. You are perfect.” When asked to describe the men Jesus chose as disciples, he said, “They were full of flaws.” Then when I asked, “Then how did they become great saints?”, Peter replied, “They grew with Jesus’ love.” I asked Peter, “How do you think Jesus feels about my getting mad or your tearing important papers?” He typed, “He forgives us and still uses us. he will help us… become the disciples he wants us to become.” “What do you think Jesus wants us to do as his disciples?” “he wants us to love people.” When one of his teachers was being overly politically correct for his straightforward teen tastes, asking, “So what do you know about God that can help you in your life?” Peter replied, “hint.heloves you.”
I am deeply humbled. How we think we know our children, yet know so little. As his typing mentor Darlene Hanson once said, “Peter, I bet it’s easy for you to learn, just hard to show us what you know.” Peter emphatically agreed.