If I asked nicely, would you indulge me for a while? Would you come with me on a long and winding (and periodically nonsensical) journey? Are you rolling your eyes and wondering if I don’t know that that’s what you do EVERY time you come here?
Well, fine, be that way.
But let’s just say – you know as a random example – that I were to post the transcript of a really, really long dialogue with little to no editorialization? Would you stay with me long enough to see why I wanted – no needed – to share it with you?
How about if I explained why first? Would that help?
You see, it’s like this. This week, my baby girl – you know the one – the one whose particular battles you’ve come to know so well, the one with the host of challenges around social pragmatics and reciprocal communication, the one whose language development has lagged YEARS behind her typical peers, the one who has really just begun to use ‘W’ questions in earnest (at seven)? Yes, THAT one.
Well, THAT little girl carried on a TWELVE MINUTE long conversation with her speech therapist.
You get that, don’t you?
Can we just sit and savor it together for a minute or two before we move on? Do you mind? Just a little celebration of sorts. You see, I’ve never had a twelve-minute long conversation with Brooke. Not even close.
About a year ago I had a dream about my daughter that took my breath away. I wrote about it here, of course, because that is what I do. I tried to explain that in the dream, I was talking to Brooke. But it was an older Brooke, a Brooke that I didn’t recognize, even though I knew for certain that it was her. In the dream, she’d told me quite matter-of-factly about something that her teachers did with her at school. At the time, that was so far from anything that I could have imagined with my eyes open that I woke up in tears.
Reading the transcript of Brooke’s conversation with Miss Sarah brought me right back to that place. A place where I saw the promise of a Brooke I’ve yet to see realized.
In reading the dialogue, you’ll hear Brooke’s inimitable voice. Even casual readers of this blog will see that it’s unmistakably her. There are too many delightful little Brooke-isms in it for it to be anyone else. And yet, as much as it’s HER, it’s a version of her that I’ve yet to meet. It’s the Brooke I’ve always known she could be.
You will see at times that the conversation is heavily facilitated. I don’t think that takes away from it a whit. I hope you will find useful tools in it. I certainly have. I love the way that Miss Sarah overtly redirects her to keep her on track. I’m obsessed with the add-a-thought process that she incorporates from Michelle Garcia Winner’s social thinking curriculum. I love that Brooke asks questions even though she’s ‘supposed to be’ commenting. I love that Miss Sarah doesn’t mind.
Above all, I love that my girl isn’t losing who she is as she gains these skills. Instead, she is building a platform from which she can express and share the whole of her glorious being. It is a wonder to behold.
Given the tools, the possibilities for my girl are truly limitless.
And so, with all that, what do you think? Can I convince you to read twelve minutes of conversation? (Comments in italics are mine.)
S: Hi Brooke.
B: Hi Sarah. How are you? (Wait! Screeching halt! Did you see that? Brooke asked her how she was WITHOUT PROMPTING!)
S: I’m great. How are you Brooke?
B: I’m great.
S: I heard you had a fun weekend this weekend. What did you do? (Miss Sarah was armed with the rundown of the weekend’s activities from our pre-session chat.)
B: I danced. (OK, so she didn’t actually dance, but whatever, let it go, mmkay?)
S: Wow! I love dancing.
B: You do?
S: Mmm-hmm. I heard that you had a playdate this weekend with a friend. I saw my friends this weekend too.
B: Who did you have a playdate with?
S: I went to a barbeque with some friends.
B: Who? (Um, hullo? Perfect use of a ‘W’ question! Oh, sorry, I promised not to editorialize, didn’t I? Oops, my bad.)
S: My friends B and L. Who did you have a playdate with?
B: I had a playdate with A and we made cookies.
S: Oooh, I love cookies. What kind of cookies did you make?
B: Chocolate chip.
S: Really? We made lots of food too.
B: You did?
Brooke doesn’t respond.
S: Can you ask me about that or make a comment, because I said we made lots of food? But we didn’t make cookies.
B: What did you guys make? (OhmyGodOhmyGodOhmyGod! How great was that question? Oh, oops, sorry again. Nothing to see here folks, move it along.)
S: We made hamburgers, kebabs, and bread pudding. Bread pudding is a dessert just like the cookies.
B: Look at the bug! (a tiny red spider was crawling on the table)
S: Oh yeah, a spider. That looks different than usual, right?
B: (talking to the spider in a big deep voice) Hey, why you on the table? (I live for the big deep voice – my all time favorite.)
S: Yeah. I don’t know how it got up here.
B: Ali, off the table please. (Yeah, the spider apparently has a name. So?)
S: Alright. There it goes. It was a little red spider. I usually see black spiders.
B: I told Ali to get off the table, just like my friend Ali.
S: You named the spider after your friend Ali.
S: Oh, that’s nice. Did you go to the pool this weekend?
B: Yeah. And I swam, swam, swam.
S: Oh. I put my feet in the ocean. I didn’t go to a pool, but I went to an ocean.
B: Yeah, you did?
S: I did. . . . Can you add-a-thought about the ocean?
B: How was the ocean?
S: There were no waves, and it was really cold. How was the pool?
B: Super duper. (I mean honestly, super duper? Who says super duper? How cool is that? Oh, yeah. Zipping it. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.)
S: Wow! How was it super duper?
B: Because I did a cannonball. (Um, sorta?)
S: A cannonball! Did you make a big splash?
B: Yeah. (Um, not really so much.)
S: Cool. Who did you go in the pool with?
B: My mom.
B: And my dad and my sister.
S: Oh. Did your sister do cannonballs too?
B: Yeah. (Um, really, really not so much, but let’s not let the truth get in the way of a good story, right?)
S: Very cool. Anything else?
B: I didn’t hurt my nose. (BEST. RANDOM. COMMENT. EVER. God, I love my kid.)
S: Were we talking about your nose?
B: I floated. (Nothing like a diversionary tactic when confronted with the randomness of your prior statement.)
S: You floated in the water?
S: I’m not very good at floating in the water, but I am really good at swimming under the water.
B: Why? (See, I told you she was asking ‘why’!)
S: Cuz I practiced. Are you good at swimming underwater?
B: Yes. I’m really great at it.
S: How did you get good at it? What did you do with your body? (Brooke has trouble distinguishing between ‘how’ and ‘why’ so Sarah coached her that the ‘how’ question typically demands an answer relating to what one does with their body.)
B: I did this (demonstrated swimming strokes).
S: You practiced?
B: Swimming with these arms.
S: Oh. You know what I used to use when learning how to swim?
S: Kick boards.
B: What’s a kick board? (What’s a kick board! She asked what it was! She didn’t know and SHE ASKED!)
S: It’s something that you hold on to with your hands, and then you kick your feet to move in the water. Have you used a kick board before?
B: I have.
S: Yeah, I used to use them in swim classes.
B: You did? Splish, splash! (I could die from this, seriously. I can just hear that little voice making the sound effects. It’s just so deliciously HER.)
S: (Brooke looked distracted) So what are we talking about?
B: Swimming in the water.
S: You’re right. And swim classes. . . . Can you add-a-thought about swimming or swim classes?
B: Where did you swim? (that is the second time she used a question instead of a comment when prompted to add-a-thought)
S: I’ve swum in the pool, lake, ocean, and a river. . . . You can add-a-thought about a lake or a river now.
B: Fish. (I’ll take sea creatures for a thousand, Alex.)
S: Yeah. Fish swim in a river or lake. . . . Can you add-a-thought about fish?
B: Fish are yummy. (Tee hee. Oh, c’mon, that’s just funny.)
S: I love to eat fish too! I think I’m going to eat fish tacos tonight for dinner.
S: Yeah. . . So what are we talking about right now? We are talking about ….
S: And . . . I made the comment that I might have fish tacos for dinner tonight. So we are talking about fish and …
S: Right. So add-a-thought.
B: Do you like to eat tacos? (third time with a question)
S: I do. Do you like to eat tacos?
S: What do you put in your tacos?
S: Yeah? I like to add guacamole.
B: Can we open the Cheetos?
S: I don’t have any Cheetos. Are you thinking about Cheetos because tacos and Cheetos are both . .
S: Both yummy food, I think. Oh! I heard you went to the zoo this weekend!
B: And I saw some animals.
S: Really? What kind of animals did you see?
B: Monkeys. (Gorillas, close enough.)
S: Those are my favorite. What else did you do? I haven’t been to the zoo in a long time.
B: I have.
S: Yeah. You went this weekend and you saw monkeys and what else?
S: Oooh. Giraffes have long necks.
B: And zebras and horses. (Well, if you count the zebras as stripey horses, sure.)
S: Yeah? And I heard you saw lots of birds.
S: What happened with the birds?
B: They landed on the stick.
S: A stick in the tree or in a cage?
B: Our hand.
S: You had a stick in your hand and a bird landed on it?
S: What kind of bird was it?
B: A hummingbird. (The birds were actually budgies, but seriously, she could have said emu at this point and I’d still be in shock.)
S: Wow! You’re brave. I’ve had a bird land on my head before.
B: That’s when you were a little girl.
S: Do you know that or are you guessing?
B: Sarah, did you have a bird land on your head when you were a little girl?
S: Nope. When I was a grown-up.
Brooke is quiet.
S: I know that you had a hummingbird on your stick, so what can you say about a bird on my head?
B: It said tweet-tweet-tweet!!!
S: Do you know that? Lots of birds make different sounds.
B: Cheep, tweet! Cheep, tweet!! (Again with the sound effects. God, to have been a fly on this wall!)
S: You could ask me . . .
B: Hey Sarah?
B: Did your bird say tweet-tweet-tweet?
S: Nope. It didn’t make any sounds at all. It was a parrot. A red and blue parrot. What color were the birds that landed on your stick?
B: Pink, blue, and green and yellow.
B: And red.
S: Wow! That sounds so cool! It sounds like you had a great time this weekend!
And there you have it, my friends. Twelve minutes of dialogue. And a window into the future.
Thanks for sticking around .
Ed note: I am so grateful to Miss Sarah on so many levels. Today I thank her for her dedication to my girl along with her generosity in creating and allowing me to share this incredible transcript. I will cherish it.