Jake is “Interested”

 I asked Jake if he wanted mom to give choices (m) or if he had an idea of what we could work on today (J).  He touched the J. Here’s what followed:

Mom(Tara/Me): OK, great, what’s your idea?

Jake:  Only most might get interested in favorite characters movies.

(His statement really surprised me because, as we’ve discussed before, Jake doesn’t usually watch movies)

Mom:  Just so I understand, do you want to talk about favorite characters or look them up to learn more about a character?

Jake:  Learn more about.

Mom: That sounds like fun! Who or what character are you interested in learning about first?

Jake:  I big interest in others who have autism.

Mom: Movie characters who have autism?

Jake:  Yes.

Mom: OK, Let’s look that up.  Off the top of my head, I can think of two.  Dustin Hofmann played “Raymond” in Rainman and Temple Grandin has a movie about her life – we’ve read her book “Thinking in Pictures.” 

So we looked up and found this list of 25 movies whose main characters have autism. I wrote down the name of each movie and read the description to Jake as went through them.

Mom:  So, wow, I had no idea there were so many! Any of those you’d like to learn more about?

Jake:  Story most reality my life, have interest in that.

Mom:  Are you talking about someone who uses a letter board to communicate?

Jake:  Yes.

Mom:  Well the first “movie” that comes to my mind about someone who uses a letter board is Carly and “Carly’s Voice” – not really a movie character, but I’ve seen a video about her life. Let’s look her up.

We find this video trailer about her book on You Tube and watch it:

I notice there are other videos about Carly being the first non-verbal talk-show host so I ask Jake if he is interested in watching another one, and he spells “yes” so we watched this:

Mom: What do you think about Carly?

Jake:  Most dealing reality my life having fun.

Mom:  Yes, absolutely, interviewing celebrities no less – but that was her dream I guess…And Ido Kedar is an author, we’re reading his book right now.  We can keep learning about these role models.

Jake: Most happy reality isn’t most interested in getting worse.

Mom:  That’s what I mean by communication opening doors for you, doors of opportunities. It’s the only way to know your thoughts. I know that communication doesn’t automatically solve all your challenges, but it opens doors to a whole new future where you get to have a voice in it.

Jake:  Most exciting!

Mom:  What we do is work together one step at a time, so you can dream and ask God’s plan for your life.  We pray for each step to be revealed. God lights our path. It’s not like snapping your fingers, it’s a journey.  We learn along the way.

Jake:  Most my life not had hope, dealing autism only made me mad.

Mom:  I’m sure Carly and Ido can relate to how you’ve felt.  I’m sure your friends you know in your life, Ryan and Kyle and others that you’ve met at school – I’m sure they’ve felt the same way at times.

Jake: Really have hard interest to not most have – to not have autism.

Mom:  Everyone’s healing is a unique journey. You’ve come so far. You’re learning about accepting and loving yourself, not being so hard on yourself, and the importance of working and practicing things that are important to you in a way you’re comfortable with…

Jake: Dealing interest have most healing life love most important.

Mom:  Absolutely!  You’re so smart!  Well I know you’re in need of a break now, but I look forward to exploring more about this with you…. I’m so excited for you. It’s going to be fun!

Jake says “OK” and promptly pops up from his chair to start his usual pacing. I am smiling and thanking God for such a wonderful surprise discussion.

Jake McClintick is now 25 years old and has been learning to communicate using a letterboard since age 18. Learning the process of using a letter board through the Rapid Prompting Method (RPM) was a gradual process that took several years. We are still working on expanding RPM and Jake’s confidence/skills beyond our “work sessions.”  Regardless, this low-tech alternative communication system has been an answered prayer for us both.

At the age of 22 he began expressing his very personal thoughts and feelings more fluently with me (his mom), and it was his idea to begin writing “The Story of My Life” one day. He is diagnosed with severe autism as well as intermittent explosive disorder. He has given me permission to share his story and our conversations.

Jake continually expresses his desire to “find purpose” to his life…I hope his willingness to share will help others learn about this misunderstood condition known as “autism” that has so much to teach us all.