It has been almost a month now, since Joey discovered Facilitated Communication and he has graciously given me permission to post this update... He says, "That's just the kinda guy I am. Kind, generous, caring, sharing, unpretentious, modest, humble..."
A quick bit of info, to paint the picture...
The 'flapping' referred to in this post is one of the ways that Joey expresses any kind of heightened emotion. His description of flapping is, "like a mad one handed clap going on in both hands."
And here is a look at the communication board we use. I hold one side with my left hand, Joey holds the other with his right hand, then my right hand supports his left hand to form a point and make the backwards movement away from the board. Joey makes the forward pointing movement and spells out his words on the board, which I read and then speak.
The very first thing to tell you is that Joey has not been near a horse again! After getting the message (in no uncertain terms) that horse riding was not his thing, Joey's parents took him out of the program.
A week later I asked Joey about his first communication and he reflected, "I said I hate horses and people got it. Like, they got it."
Joey went on to explained that his obsession with the tack room came from his attempt to delay having to get on the horse. He also explained that his flapping was not because he was excited or even happy to be there, but because he was "shit scared" and couldn't wait to get off. He had been communicating this for 12 years but no one had "got it".
The next first...
When Joey's parents heard that he'd been successful in using FC as a method of communication, they were eager to facilitate with him. His mum asked if I would teach her and I couldn't agree fast enough. Joey was a little more apprehensive.
When I arrived at their house he was pretty wound up and flapping all over the place. He could barely even look at us, let alone the FC board. We took the pressure of straight away and said we'd have a chat, if he wanted to, but he did not have to try FC with mum today. This helped a little, and after we moved outside and sat on the grass he calmed down enough to sit beside me. Another 10 minutes and he could handle eye contact. Another 10 and we could pick up the board.
His hand was shaking and his movements were wild and intense. He stopped quite a few times to flap out some steam and I started to worry that this was causing him too much stress. I suggested we leave it for today and come back to it another time. Hit must have hit "NO" about a hundred times!
So we persisted, and after being assured that we would continue to persist until he had said what he wanted to, Joey calmed down enough to continue. I asked a couple of simple questions to try and ease our way into things and we got there eventually.
Here is what was said:
Me, "You have a beautiful garden, Joey. Do you prefer the shrubs, or the trees?"
Joey, "Trees, please."
Me, "Do you enjoy their smooth leaves, or rough bark?"
Joey, "Bark. It feels real."
Me, "Real is a great description. What else do you feel, Joey?"
Joey, "Boring question, Al."
Me, laughing, "OK. Do you have a question?"
Me, "Is there something you would like to say?"
We then had quite a few rounds of Joey making huge, random and uncontrolled movements, getting frustrated and then shoving the board away before he finally managed to say what he wanted to say.
"Hi mum. It's me. Joey."
She cried, I cried, and Joey flapped so much we thought he was going to take off.
Since then, Joey and I have talked about why it was so difficult for him to speak to his mum. He says, "Thoughts are always in my head and they've never got out before. When I think about her (mum) there is so much thought there that it all got stuck and nothing could get out the exit. Like a traffic jam, only freakier."
Joey's mum asked if he still wanted her to learn to facilitate with him and he said, "Yes. But I think we jumped too much in the deep end. Let's not drown next time, OK?"
Mum agreed, and they have now decided to go right back to basics and design their own communication board together. They will also look for a support person who will be able to facilitate with him in the mean time, as currently I am the only person who is able to do this and the time we share is limited. In relation to this Joey says to me, "When you leave with that board, you take all my words with you.... Nothing personal."
After he stopped laughing, he added, "The more I can say, the less traffic will be there to get jammed up. Then I can be traffic controller."
"That'll be sweet, that will."