Wonder Child

We’ve managed to accrue a few of those toy laptops over the years. There’s the Barbie one, the VTech one, and the Disney Princess one.

I tried once, a long, long time ago to teach Rhema how to play with the laptop. But I became discouraged quickly, because it turned into a “hand war” with her trying to push all the buttons while I tried to stop her from pushing all the buttons. She was so focused on the buttons that I could not get her to look at the screen. (A little joint attention would have been helpful). The same is true for looking at books together – we always end up in a hand war.

laptopSo Rhema just perseverates on the laptop toy, turning it off and on, pushing the same button repeatedly until I take it away from her. For a year, I have not attempted to show her how to use it correctly.

Just assumed she couldn’t.

A couple nights ago, Rhema found the VTech laptop in my bedroom. On the spur of the moment, I sat down on the bed, put her in my lap and opened the computer. The hand war ensued as we battled over the On/Off button.

Then she stopped trying to press the button, and instead tapped her hand to her chest two times. I immediately recognized the gesture as her saying “for me” in sign language. Years ago we tried teaching her some sign language, but it just didn’t take. (Her poor motor planning and lack of receptive language made it very difficult).

But here she was signing “for me”, and I understood that it was her way of saying “my turn.” So I let her turn the laptop off and on.

Then it was my turn, and I managed to quickly get us into an alphabet letter identification game. Suddenly I was determined to teach Rhema how to appropriately play with this laptop. Rhema knows some, or most, of her letters… we think. (She will repeat some letters if we prompt her, but we never know for sure if she’s just repeating or if she really knows them.)

The first letter that appeared on the screen was a ‘D’. I was holding Rhema’s hands so that she could not turn it off. I cautiously let go of one hand to see what she would do. She signed “my turn.” (Amazing!) Then she casually ran her fingers over the keys and deliberately pressed the letter ‘D’.

Oh my gosh. She did it. I almost fell off the bed.

But then she was turning the laptop off and on again. I caught her hands, got us back into the game and waited for the next letter.

I know Rhema knows the letter R. But I still did not know if she understood that she had to press the R key.

She did. She did!

Don’t get excited. Let’s try another letter.


She skimmed her fingers along the keyboard, found the ‘I’ key and pressed it. She started stimming on the I key, pressing it repeatedly. But I didn’t care. I grabbed her and spun her around.

“Good job, Rhema. You did it! You did it!!!”

She looked a little bored, not nearly as excited as me. It was if she was saying, “Woman, chill. What? You didn’t think I knew how to play this?”

We played with it for another half hour. I had to continually break her out of stimming patterns, but she definitely “got” the game and only made a couple mistakes.

‘Cause you’re a wonder child
Living in a world that’s all surprise
And you make me see things through your eyes
Wonder child, this I know
It’s no wonder that I love you so
Wonder child, wonder child

(-Old Sesame Street song)


I recently told my friend Cha that Rhema had moved to a new level of PECS at school. She is now working on attributes, specifically colors. So if she wants a red popsicle, she must build the sentence “I want – red – popsicle” using her PECS symbols.

“It will be interesting to see how she does, because we’re not even sure she knows her colors. But that girl, she keeps teaching me again and again to never underestimate her.” I said

“I bet she does know her colors,” Cha said. “Wouldn’t surprise me in the least.”

You know what?

Me neither.

20 thoughts on “Wonder Child

  1. We have several of those laptops, too. Foster’s Thomas the Tank Engine (who else, right?) has a button that each time you push it, it says “surprise time.” Even as I type this, I can hear it in my head over and over. Foster just loved that button.

    Doesn’t surprise me in the least that your wonder child knows exactly how to play the game. I love that she was so nonplussed by it, even as you rejoiced.

    It’s all in there.


  2. YAY!!! I loved starting the day off with this post!

    I can’t say it better than Jess did:

    “This is so utterly, deliciously fabulous.”

  3. Great job Rhema! I’m so excited for you guys!

    I’m also so glad to see Rhema is coming along with the PECS. I so much want to do a formal PECS program with Kayla, but it’s going to have to wait until we get her into Kindy (which I still don’t know where that is going to be).

    Kayla has a V-Tech Alphabet Town. Some of the settings have various games on them and when KAYLA is in the mood, she’ll play the games appropriately (although never long enough for me to get the video camera out!).

    I share your frustration with the books. I love to read and it breaks my heart that any attempt to sit down and share a book with Kayla usually ends up with her grabbing it out of my hand.

  4. YES!!! Go Rhema Beans! We are wild with hope and unashamedly believing in the power of our God for you.

    Besides with an Ivy League mommy who can use the word perseverates correctly you can’t go wrong. (Auntie on the other hand has to go now and look it up.) ha ha!

  5. Go Rhema!! (& Go Mommy too!!) So proud of you both for persisting.

    Loved Chells comment! “We are wild with hope and unashamedly believing in the power of our God for you.”

    Amen and Amen!!

  6. Rhema and Jack are so much alike. He really loves doing the ABC’s on Starfall. (www.starfall.com) He points at the letters on the screen … not quite ready to push the keys yet… but I’m hoping.

    On another note, I think we might start pursuing some augmentative communication sometime soon. I’ll keep you posted. 🙂

    Love to you and your sweet girls..


  7. get the heck outta town.

    love it.

    she is so smart. i bet she is just storing everything up. and she knows she can’t let it loose all at once b/c you will have a heart attack.

  8. those are the BEST moments. Yea Rhema! Daniel is obsessed (still at 12 1/2) with his “lap tops” and stims over them every single night hitting those buttons over and over perseverating. It’s a little thing he does before bed. I leave the room so I don’t have to hear it repeat repeat repeat 🙂

  9. How cool!! It’s so great when we discover hidden talents we didn’t realize were there 🙂

    LOL, “chill, woman” haha that made me laugh. She was probably thinking, of course I know how to do that but turning it on and off over and over is just more fun.

    Bitty does the same thing with his laptop toy… he pushes the same buttons over and over (and over) and the repetitive noise drives us nuts but he loves it. I didn’t think he knew how to play it “appropriately” either until I found him actually answering some questions. He won’t let us show him how to do anything, but he’ll do trial and error and teach himself. And then he thinks it’s funny to get the wrong answers on purpose so it took me a while to figure out he actually knows the answers and it just getting it wrong b/c he thinks the response it gives is funny. sigh.

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