ten minutes in

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Editor’s note:

My daughter didn’t write this.

I did.

It’s a guess. A guess as to what it feels like to be inside her head. A guess based on years upon years of watching her, listening to her and collecting and piecing together every clue she has offered, in whatever way she offered them.

You see, I spend a lot of time trying to understand my daughter’s experience from the inside out. Given that it’s fundamentally different from my own in many ways, I think it’s important. Because if I don’t, I will make faulty assumptions based on my own experience that simply won’t apply to or for her.

It’s not always easy. In fact, at times it feels damned near impossible. But over time, and especially in recent years as both her ability to speak my language and my ability to speak hers have improved, it’s gotten easier.

But still, it’s a guess.

I don’t think that my daughter thinks in words. I might be wrong, of course, but I imagine that her internal world is dominated by thoughts and feelings themselves, not the words that we, out here, insist on using to describe them. I look forward to the day when she can tell me if I’ve got it right or if I’m way off base. But until then, I will keep trying.

Because it matters.

*

What do you feel in the room? On your skin? Is there a breeze? Is that a tag in my pants that keeps rubbing up against the skin just above my hip? Or is it a seam? What the heck is that? Maybe if I shift a little, or try to pull my t-shirt down between my skin and the material? If I stay ever-so-still maybe it won’t rub like that, keep irritating my skin. I can’t make it stop. There’s got to be a way to make it stop.

“Calm body, Brooke, okay?”

Calm body. I’m trying, but can’t you see this tag or seam or something, oh my God it is SO annoying. I’m trying to sit still. I’m trying.

Do you smell that? Is it the teacher’s perfume? The air is thick with it, isn’t it? It’s like a fog. Aren’t you choking on that sweet, syrupy smell of vanilla and flowers? I can’t breathe.

The lights are buzzing again. Why must lights make noise? It sounds like a train. Or no, a bee. A swarm of bees. Bees make me itch. I’m afraid of bees.

“Brooke, hands away from your ears.”

Okay, okay, but the bees. I need to protect myself from the bees.

The teacher is talking. There are so many words and they’re coming so fast. Are they dialogue words or monologue words? When the words stop coming will she be looking for a response to them? Will I have to have figured out what all the words were and then what they meant and then what she wants me to say or do I just have to listen?

Maybe I can pull the tag out. Or smooth the seam over with a piece of tape. Maybe I could get a tissue from the bathroom. But the hallways –  the noise of the lights in the hallways is worse. And the echo. All those footsteps layered on top of each other and the groaning scratch of metal on metal as the locker doors open and close and open and close and the talking and the faces, all those faces, too many faces, and the eyes, searching, and the waving and the laughing and the bodies coming at me in different directions and I’m supposed to know which side to walk on and that kid waving his hand — is it going from side to side or back and forth because if it’s side to side then I’m supposed to wave back but if it’s back and forth then I’m supposed to go to him because one means hello and the other means come here and it’s so hard to tell which is which and no, just no. The bathroom will wait.

“Full body listening, Brooke.”

I hear the words, off in the distance. They register somewhere, just slightly louder than the buzzing of the lights but not as loud as the boy sneezing in the next classroom or the girl shuffling her papers or the syrupy sweet perfume or the tag in my pants or the teacher, still tossing her words into the air. They’re piling up on top of each other now – wait! wait! Please just wait. I need time to sort them out, to make sense of the letters and the sounds and the words and the sentences and the stuff that she’s not saying that we’re supposed to understand that she means anyway and I’m listening, but I’m not looking in the right direction because it hurts to look because there’s just too much input and it’s coming from everywhere and if I have to look too it might just be that one thing more than I can possibly contain because there is so much emotion pouring from her face but I hear it again, “full body listening, Brooke,” and I know that I have to turn my body and train my eyes to look without seeing because I have to make them see that I’m listening but I can’t take it all in because it’s too much.

I don’t get why people don’t seem to understand that my eyes aren’t my ears – they’re grown-ups, shouldn’t they know that? And they don’t seem to get that looking doesn’t mean listening and listening can’t happen while looking because the emotions are too big and there’s the tag and the buzzing and the sneeze and the papers and the words — the endless, endless words because people seem to need the words and there’s nowhere to hide from people and their words and now the teacher is reading and I hear the word, “Max,” and I need to tell someone that Max is a bunny. The bunny from Max and Ruby. I need to say, “What does Max say?” and I need them to make the bunny noise that Max says and then I need them to be Ruby and tell me what Ruby says when she says, “Shh, Max,” because this is what you do when someone says, “Max,” because Max is a bunny from Max and Ruby. Do you watch Max and Ruby? Do you know that cartoon?

“No scripting right now, Brooke.”

No, no scripting now. We can’t do that now. Because now is sitting still and listening and looking like we’re listening time and the tag and the seam and the buzz of the lights and the words that keep piling up and the hallway outside the door and what if there’s a fire drill today? Oh no. What if there’s a fire drill today?

Can someone, anyone, please tell me that there won’t be a fire drill today?  I say it out loud, “The firemen won’t be here today,” and you smile and bob your head up and down in that thing that people do to mean yes but you don’t repeat it. I need someone to repeat it. I didn’t say it to say it I said it so that someone would say it back to me, reassure me, I need to know that there won’t be a fire drill today.

“Could you tell me the firemen won’t come today?”

“Not right now, Brooke.”

Okay not now, but what about later? Will there be a fire drill later? Please tell me that there won’t be a fire drill later. That wasn’t what you meant, but I don’t know that wasn’t what you meant. Words are unreliable. I don’t trust them. I can’t. I need the exact ones that I asked you for. Please. I just need you to say this one thing – “The firemen won’t be here today.”

There’s a math worksheet on my desk.

I’m supposed to do something with it.

I shriek.

That’s a “behavior” that gets ignored.

I find words because they trust words.

“I need a break,” I say.

“Not yet, Brooke. Let’s do some math first and then we can take a break.”

“I need a drink of water,” I say.

It is marked in the book. “Requested a break — escape // avoidance.”

The halls will be quieter now.

“I have to go the bathroom,” I say.

School started ten minutes ago.

There’s math to do.

I need a break.

This is why I don’t insist (or let others insist) on eye contact. This is why I’ve been known to “indulge” (and ask others to “indulge”) her scripts. This is why when she asks for reassurance, I offer it. This is why she has the help that she has and gets the breaks that she needs.

This is why I bristle at anyone who tries to define my daughter as the sum of her behavior under stress.

This is what I try to remember, because this, I think, is what she lives … every single day.

It’s ten minutes in.

*

Further Reading:

Judy Endow on Eye Contact

Amanda Baggs on Language

Julia Bascom on Quiet Hands

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70 thoughts on “ten minutes in

  1. This sounds really close to what I would feel in such a situation. With some differences of course, Brooke is a different person from me. :)
    In fact, your description just made me remember how stern teachers would get if I started on the assignment too soon. I really had to learn not to start working until they said I could. Working on my assignment was soothing and a way to block out the rest of the things happening around me.

    • starting the work right away, that was me, too. i felt so much better when i could shut everything out by focusing on the worksheets — and i KNEW what they wanted, because they always wanted the same thing! “wait for the instructions” arggggg frustration and overwhelm!

  2. I didn’t expect to cry reading this one, dammit.

    OMG, I am sharing this with Nik’s team. Having just this week witnessed the school nurse physically guide him to a chair by holding both arms and then kneel down to berate him for “touching my things” and then cupping his chin and turning his head, saying “You need to look at me, Nik!” It’s a miracle I’m not in jail.
    Instead, I’m working with the case manager to retrain staff, to change their perceptions and understanding. You and Brooke have taught me how to do that in ways that they can hear. This will be a piece of that. Thank you.

    Please pass the tissues.

    • oh god. the thought of someone invading my own physical autonomy that way makes me nauseous; i can only imagine how you felt watching someone do that to your kid. i guess it’s easier to change things from the outside than the clink though, so good job not killing anyone :)

  3. It’s like this a lot but sometimes it’s not either. Sometimes it can be one thing that the teacher says that sticks in your head and you replay it and look at it from so many angles that it loses it’s value and you can’t remember what they really meant by it to begin with. One statement that can send your mind on a string of connected thoughts that jump from one topic to the next so fast that no one would be able to keep up with you if you were speaking them out loud.

    I’ve been told repeatedly that I have a “bad habit” of trying to hold multiple conversations on different topics at the same time and expecting people to be able to keep up as I move fluidly from one to the next. I’m also guilty of having entire conversations (scripts that I imagine a conversation will be like) in my head only to think that I’ve said a lot of it out loud when I haven’t and then having trouble understanding why others can’t understand what I’m talking about. I often have to stop, reset the point in the conversation where I lost the other person, and then “replay” the conversation I was having in my head to the person who I’m talking to. It’s not generally that I’m not paying attention, it’s that I’m taking in so much that concentrating on one thing is next to impossible. Then there’s the need for motion that a lot of us feel. We just can’t sit still. We need the rocking or wiggling to keep our bodies from overtaking our minds. It’s like getting static from your limbs that interferes with your thoughts.

    You’ve come close to what it’s like with your description though. I’m sure Brooke has felt all that and then some at different times. You are a wonderful mother and I’m proud of you for trying to get inside her head becaquse so many people don’t even make the effort. You rock!

    • thank you for all of this, but especially this ..

      I’m also guilty of having entire conversations (scripts that I imagine a conversation will be like) in my head only to think that I’ve said a lot of it out loud when I haven’t and then having trouble understanding why others can’t understand what I’m talking about.

      which is bringing on a total holy crap moment because my kiddo sop often seems to be mid conversation and assuming that i know what she’s referring to and .. wow. this warrents investigation.

      did i already say thank you? thank you!

      • You’re welcome. My fiance catches me having conversations out loud in the shower before important meetings like IEPs, work meetings, etc. I spend a lot of time practicing what I want to say and how I’ll answer questions, etc. I can also sometimes get upset if something doesn’t go how the script in my head said it should. I keep trying to understand why different people react the way they do to different things, why some get upset about things that aren’t offending to me. I can be more blunt than people are used to and it sometimes leads to hurt feelings.

        People are hard to figure out. We all have so many different experiences that shape us and then you get those of us who experience things different than the norm and we really get the odd man out thing going on. :) I think all of the human race is a spectrum moreso than just us autistic people.

      • Also, I forgot to mention that sometimes I will be running a script in my head that coincides with a conversation in progress, such as, I ask you a question or make a comment and while you’re answering I’m several more interactions ahead of you in my head and then I try to “skip ahead” in the conversation by the time it’s my turn to speak again. Frustrates the dickens out of my mom. LOL

    • Wow, I’ve always found it amazing that my son can stop a conversation, then pick it up at the EXACT point later in time. Be it a few minutes or days, even if he’s stopped mid-sentence. When he was younger, he would also be very surprised that he hadn’t said something out loud, or that we didn’t ‘hear’ what he said.

  4. This is a really eye-opening post. One of your best yet. Your blog has taught me so much about autism, and I relate to it as a mom because you get that relentless advocacy (spelling?) for your kids is so vital. Just curious though….what is “scripting”?

    • thanks, sarah. scripting is reciting chunks of dialogue – often from movies, books or television, but sometimes for brooke (and others too, of course!) they are of her own design. it is also called delayed echolalia. a very large part of her language is scripted.

  5. My daughter’s behaviors started to pick up this week at school and I know she’s struggling — just like your description here. We have an FBA next week and I pray that the person doing it has the insight to pick up on half the stuff you’ve picked up with Brooke. Please. Even just half.

  6. I LOVE this post! I am a teacher at a DIR/Floortime school where we “indulge” the scripts, stims, never would ask for quiet hands and think behavior is communication. Thank you for helping more people to understand, respect, and honor Autistics.

  7. This is dead on what we’re exeriencing with our 7 year old daughter. She’s currently really struggling with the transition back to school and I imagine your description of Brooke’s day (or first 10 minutes) is pretty much the same for our daughter. We have an upcoming IEP meeting to “brainstorm” ideas to help her adjust, perhaps I can provide it to her team to give them a “taste” of the autistic experience. Thanks for all you do!

  8. I’m tearing up at this. Oh my goodness – this picture is so CLEAR, the difference of the experience of the world. I’ll be sending this to my son’s team.

    He has words, but he’s so young (6), so it’s still a puzzle to figure out exactly what goes on in how he processes the world. I don’t believe he has the same challenges as Brooke – he’s a sensory seeker, doesn’t script – but I want to really understand how he experiences things. I really want to be able to help him translate the world in a way that works for him.

    Thank you SO much for this.

  9. This was very hard to read, but necessary. I am so thankful that some people try so hard to help the rest of us see the forest thru the trees…thank you, Jess!
    You should do a podcast of this..or you tube. I think an audio version would be even more powerful. Blessings to you!!

  10. This is exactly how I perceive my daughter as well. The daughter who just asked what I was reading and when I replied “a blog about fire drills” puts her hands to her ears and says “I HATE fire drills too!!!” I can only imagine the stress she goes through getting through her day, which happens to now include high school.

  11. I am the ne of the poem a couple of days ago.At 3 my boy was non-verbal, today he is 200% verbal..he is autistic though he explains to me at 11 exactly how he feels. with noises.touch visual images. He tells me some images scare him. make his heart beat faster, his hands sweat. Electronic music hurts his ears, but he is like in heaven with a symphony. He thinks with drawings (images), he describes to me what is that his mind see with abstracts like justice or listening to a song , it is memoirs of similar events or circumstances, nice or unpleasent feelings (physical),, he tells me he loves me on his head but his heart does not beat faster becauuse of this like mine does whe he tells me about his insights. Isn,t this communication unique, wonderful lno doubt GOD exists

  12. This was great, Jess! I wish I had had something like this to show to my kids’ teachers and administrators when they were little and would tell me that “there was nothing going on, no reason for him to be stressed out and react like that” or “he’s just avoiding work”. Now they are in high school, and I still plan to share it because I think it’s important for the people who work with our kids at least have some small glimpse of what life is like for them.

    Oh, and I too have entire conversations in my head in advance. I do that even with posts like this. Even then, things never come out quite the way I plan in my head. It is horribly frustrating to have a whole planned conversation in your head and have the other person “ruin” it with their very first word.

  13. Jess, usually I don’t comment or link to things, but have you read my post “Words”? Because what you describe here from your perceptions of “Brooke’s Brain” are very similar to how I perceive the world. Obviously, I’m not Brooke, but I’d say you’re probably on the right track.

  14. it’s always moving reading about any parents effort to connect with their sweet little one. i still think way, way too many parents want to force expectations on their kid…they mean well, but they think they show love by forcing their child to adhere to a certain set of rules, expectations…and it just creates a living hell for the kid. so what you wrote here is just beautiful, you give her so much comfort and breathing room when you just let her be, when you try to get where she’s at.

    you mention eye contact, not forcing it…i wish people could know how damaging it is to force things like that. i was encouraged to make eye contact…and you know what? finally, to shut people up, i learned the trick. i use counting routines…and as a result, i feel very fake, artificial any time i make eye contact. people got what they wanted, i learned to mimic eye contact…but instead of improving my social skills, it just made things much, much worse, created far more distance. so i really liked your points here, great post.

  15. Very insightful, but makes me want to get her into a Son-Rise program where she can do all those things and not have people telling her to stop all day long.

    Your love for your daughter shines through! Sometimes I say to B that I can’t wait to hear what he is thinking with my ears, but for now I will listen with my heart. It is all we can do.

  16. Just yesterday I asked my 11 year old daughter when she thinks of something like a pencil, does she see a pencil or see the word pencil. She very matter of fact said she sees the actual pencil and we went on to talk about how she thinks in images and not words. We had suspected this for a long time but this was the first time she was able to express it. I also think she thinks in sound and feelings and emotions like Brooke. I love being able to learn about what is going on inside of her, she’s an amazing kid and it helps me help her the more I understand. Thank you for sharing, you did an amazing job translating for Brooke!

  17. Yesterday I got a call home from my son’s school. There had been a situation where my son got “pinched” by his autistic classmate. The teacher was feeling very torn on having to explain the situation. I got the feeling she was worried I was going to be upset. This young man does not speak and in a moment of sheer frustration he squeezed my sons arm. Thanks to this blog and the facebook updates I was able to follow up with my son (he was not upset at all and I quote him here: It was no big deal mom…I know he is “artistic”. I did correct him on the word but it was cute none the less!) to make sure that he understood what autisim is and what the world looked like to this young man. When I woke up this morning you had posted THIS BLOG…and I was thrilled that it eerily was so similar to what I had explained to him last night. Thank you so much for your honesty and your candid sharing of both the amazing and the challenging. I am not sure I could have handled this so well if it was not for reading your story daily!! My son has a whole new sensitivity to this child in his class and understanding (as well as an 8 year old buy who is not autistic can understand). Sincerely…Marny

    • Oh Marny, thank you for sharing this with me. And thank you for being here and learning about our kids and guiding yours with compassion. Just thank you. Hugs.

      • Your blog is a daily occurance for me…from tears to laughter…I find so much inspiration in it. I also shared todays blog with my sons teacher…she was mentioning having a conversation with her students to make sure they understand!!

  18. Ooh, the looking vs listening thing really hit me hard. I’m frequently that way too – I can look at you or I can listen to you, but I can’t do both. There are other things too. I can listen to you or I can have facial expressions, but not both. I can absorb your instructions, but I can’t follow them at the same time. If someone wants me to do a thing, they have to *stop talking* before I can do it, and so often they seem to expect me to start doing it before they stop talking. So then they just keep talking and talking and talking and won’t stop. Once someone actually grabbed my hand to make me do the thing, because I was waiting for them to stop talking but they were apparently waiting for me to do the thing before they would stop – and that was only a few months ago! I’m 32. Even now, people need to learn that I need them to stop talking and give me some time to process. Don’t assume I don’t understand just because I’m looking at you with a slack-jawed expression and am not moving.

  19. Oh my God! I watch my daughter, watch how she moves, reacts to her surroundings, how she copes, deals with it all, at home, I’ve not tried to see the school part of her life, just WOW! Thank you, so much.

  20. jess you are the second parenting blogger I have read this month who is really putting it together as you truly care to know us. ariane zurcher’s piece on speaking vs typing is also a must read for those who care to know more about our perspectives in autism. below is a clip from my comment to that blog. meanwhile back at this ranch, we are all wise to focus on listening with our ears, seeing with our eyes, and loving with our everything. happily with you, b

    my dear neurotypical friends, first, let me say i love that you all are putting your heads together to break down this truth into practical ideas to help me and my autistic peers who struggle mightily with spoken language communications. em is right, “language is an awkward way to communicate” and i argue that is true for everyone but highly challenging for those of us who are autistically wired in the “vanilla cake” or “mail truck” way that em and i are. it took me years to think in language. but prior to that my thinking was not faulty it was just not language based. thinking in language is not efficient for me. i wish i could give you a pretty little fact package about what works so folk like me could get such treatment and soar socially and academically. of course, the problem is…it is hard to say in language. typing makes it way easier, because i can control the speed of each thought and break it down to smaller parts to be better described by letters one peck at a time. speaking requires a rather unnatural process for me perhaps like you singing a song you heard in another language. u may be able to imitate the sounds but the meaning in each mimic is not precise. since most folk are not yet well practiced in telepathy the best way for me now is to communicate through typing. but still my thinking is not easily translated in to words. feelings, sensations, visions and perceptions that are cleanly processed in my mind dont fit well into letter symbols. there i said it – or something close. thanks for caring. trying b

    • Thank you, my sweet friend. We can I my do it with your generous help, and I am grateful every day for your guidance and the love with which you share yourself for the littles. It means everything.

      Love.

  21. Thank you for your prose. And thank you for giving me an idea of how to explain to his school team what happens when he reaches the breaking point of overwhelm.

    I would love to meet someone (maybe through your awesome Diary community) whose child has the same reaction to overwhelm as my guy (to seek physical contact) and calming techniques that work.

  22. I have stopped making our autistic boy look at me during group lessons at school. I have learnt from Brooke that you don’t listen with your eyes. I can’t think why I would have thought that before. I can tell from his body how well he is listening or understanding and so if he turns his back on me and puts his hands over his eyes but his body is “listening” then I know he is present in the lesson. I have learnt to read him much better for reading your blog.

  23. Pingback: Looking doesn’t mean listening | Walkin' on the edge

  24. I am an 85 year old retired RN. I never have had in my 40 plus of nursing experience with or known an Autistic child nor his/her family. Having read through a good share of this blog I have learned a lot about your families, teachers and the particular families involved. You have all summed up the feelings of your individual child in your writings. God bless all of you for sharing this. I have learned a lot.

  25. Thank you so much for this post and rich discussion. I know that we had a big leap forward with communicating with our son (now 7) when we realized everything in his mind was image. Often he gets lost in time and space he is so absorbed by the images. For the longest time, he could only communicate by scripting. He would recite words associated with visual images that referred to the ideas or emotions he wanted to get across. So, for instance when he was around 3 his Dad was getting ready to leave on a long trip, so he recited the entire weather report from the radio in “Kiki’s Delivery Service.” The context in that scene is that she is about to leave for a big adventure on her own for the first time and the radio is saying that the weather will be good for it. I think it was his version of “have a good trip!” Now that he has gotten better at bridging the gap between image and speech, I can ask him things directly when he is scripting: “Where are you now in your mind?” “What do you see?” “Is it a memory, a movie, a book, a TV show?” He likes to describe what he sees for me. I can also ask him to find his way out of the image and back to being him again. He has learned the skill of substituting the present experience for the images. I think it is important to give kids the retreat and “alone time” they need to unwind, but it is also important to teach them the skills they need to engage socially when necessary or they want to. I love the Whole Body Listening book because it teaches my son how to engage with other children and adults, something he genuinely wants to do when he can. He just needs support, reminders of what to do with his body to accomplish this. For instance, at the bus stop the other day, he was telling a tree all about something he is really into while the kids waiting at the bus stop were all in a pack talking a few feet away. All I had to tell him was, “If you want to talk with the other kids, you need to put your body with their bodies. Otherwise, they won’t know you are talking to them.” He immediately walked over, joined them, and started laughing at something (hopefully appropriate) that they said. Thank you again for your post and all the comments. I’m learning a lot.

  26. I loved this, as well as all the comments above. I too am a student of my autistic child, watching and desperately trying to understand what his brain is processing. I recently read “Born on a Blue Day” (a recommendation from one of the aides at my son’s school), and kept having mind blowing experiences as he would describe what led to a behavior, reaction, etc, because all I see is the end, and now I have a better idea what is leading up to it. I love your phrasing about how your daughter is learning to speak your language and you are learning to speak hers, I think that so appropriately describes what is happening in many of our families as our children gain speech and we stop expecting them to act exactly like us. It also gives me hope, as I find words come more effectively through writing personally, that learning to write or type as Barb does may give my son even more routes to communicate with us. Thank you SO MUCH to all of the autistic individuals who are able to give us NT parents insight to help us better care for our children.

  27. This is a very moving piece. My son is now 25 and autistic, he just began his junior year at a local university. A few years ago he realized not everyone sees in pictures like he does, I feel a little out of the loop. We still have a good many bumps and never am sure what each day will bring. Through all the IEP’s, medical homebounds, and on and on, somehow hung I on to hope and loved him with all my heart. Best thing I ever did and still do, forever and ever.
    Thank you so much for sharing I can tell you are a loving and wonderful Mom.

  28. While I am “Only an Aspie” and I am “high functioning”… yes… this! there are many days that this hits very close to home.. thank you for posting …

  29. Rereading this because it hasn’t left me. I am not autistic, I am not the parent of, the sibling of, or even the friend of. I am just someone trying to understand. And the one thing I keep coming back to with this post is how blessed it would be to see, to really see, and to feel, and to hear the world the way Brooke does. Just like anyone blessed with something others don’t understand, she is burdened by us, our words and confined expectations. Our lack of understanding. But what if we all heard the lights, and smelled the sweet perfume? What if we all were so in tuned with one another?
    As with so many things in history, I believe that one day people will look back at our ridiculous efforts to “cure” autism and say, “Thank goodness they didn’t!” I believe at that point people will appreciate how truly amazing it is to really see people in this way. That in this future world, everyone will see them as the individuals that they are and appreciate their perspectives, and for heaven’s sake, give them a break when they need it! I just pray we get to see this world in our lifetimes.

    • i love this comment so much that i copied it to diary’s facebook page. if you’re on facebook, i hope you’ll come over and see it. thank you, on so very many levels. thank you.

  30. Yep, while reading this I had a visual of a time when I was about 8. It was one of those days when you have to take your toys into school. I hated those days, I didn’t like the other kids touching my things. I remember I had taken a doll in a pushchair because I didn’t like dolls, but I knew the other girls did, so I didn’t care if anyone wanted to play with it or if I was made to share. Anyway…we wasn’t allowed to play with the toys until after dinner. They were all on the counter by the sink in the classroom. The morning dragged, it was SOOOOO long. I daydreamed and watched the clock. I remember rolling my socks up and down and up and down and up and down and licking my fingers to clean my shoes and make them shiny. I was just waiting for time to pass. Then after dinner our teacher (who always smelt like coffee and cigarettes) decided it would be a nice treat for the headmaster to come and read us a story. I hated story time when there were no pictures and this was a no picture book. I kept staring at his ears ( he had big ears) I had my visual overlays going and I turned him into all types of strange monsters in my head. Then I started giggling and I knew I shouldn’t but I couldn’t get the picture of him out of my head. I had this idea that if I could just drink some water then I would stop laughing and not get into trouble. So I got up and went to the tap. It wasn’t usually a problem we were allowed to get a drink of water but the rules had changed because the headmaster was there and the toys were by the sink. I got shouted at and told to stand in the corner. I had to stand there for the rest of the day and not play with the toys. I didn’t mind because I only had a stupid doll anyway.
    Great post, thanks for sharing.

  31. Oh my what an amazing read, you have made me cry! Thank you so much for sharing, you will never truly know how much you are helping other Mums. Julia x

  32. That was awesome! I’m always trying to get a feel of what a day in my son’s life might be like, 10 mins.wow, thank you!

  33. Jess, this post has put in words how I have imagined Brooke to feel sometimes (most of the time). I think Brooke is absorbing literally everything that is within reach of her senses. Not necessarily understanding or categorizing, but packing away in her mind to take out and study when it is more convenient. And when she does…well, that’s when she says things like “No need to apologize.” When she has dug out that bit of sensory data that says “These are the words we use when…”.

    Thank you for this wonderful and visceral glimpse into her mind.

  34. I just can’t. Words can never express how much “Yes!!” this is.
    Right now I relate to how words can’t always express the emotions.

  35. I think this may be the first time I’ve read an NT trying to understand what an autistic person thinks and not cringed. It’s extremely like my life, actually.

  36. Exactly how I used to feel before I got used to the humans. I know they mean well. Teachers who can be quiet and tolerant are angels. I passed eight O Levels at age 13. One of my kids was the same, and did even better.

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