other than played


‘Brooke, what did you do with Ms A today?’ I ask. We are sitting together on the stairs. Katie is upstairs getting ready for bed and Luau is fumbling through papers in the office.

“Other than play. I can’t say played.”

No matter what the question – ‘what did you do at school today?’ ‘what was your favorite part of the party?’ ‘what happened on your playdate?’ the answer is a well rehearsed, mostly grammatically appropriate version of ‘I played.’ We’re working our way out of the narrow cubby-holes of scripted language.

“Right, honey. Other than played.”

“We went BACK to the museum.”

‘You did?? That sounds like fun!’

“Nope,” says Luau from the office.

“No to the museum?” I ask.

Marital shorthand – it works.

“No museum,” he responds.

Damn it. It sounded so plausible.

“Brooke, honey, what did you REALLY do with Ms A today?” The problem is that I don’t know the answer. Questions around these parts are generally useless unless I already know the answer. Yeah, chew on that for a while.

“Did you go the pool?”

“Oh yeah, I did. And I went under the water like this.” She puffs out her cheeks as though holding her breath.

“Oh wow! I’ll bet that was a LOT of fun. Did you show Ms A how you can jump off the diving board now?”

“No pool,” drifts in from the office.

Damn, damn damn.

“Hey, Luau, help me out, would ya?” I ask as he wanders over to the steps. I’m obviously flailing. “What did they do today?”

He gives me a rundown. Mostly, they just played outside in the yard.

“Did you have fun with Ms A today, Brooke?”

“Oh yeah. I did.”

I’ll take it.

Over the summer, Brooke had worked her way up to telling us one thing that she had done each day. With more prompting, she would even add small details – who she’d done it with or what her favorite part of the activity had been. It was heaven.

She has been out of camp for two weeks. Two stinkin weeks. Scripts are back in force. Anxiety is up. And when I try to ask what she did during the day, she tells me anything that she can think of to make me stop asking questions.

Regression sucks.

22 thoughts on “other than played

  1. Regression is a dirty word. Way dirtier then my f bombs. I hear ya sister!

    I don’t know if this is true for Brooke but with Devin, I get some regression and then whammo back where he needed to be if not better then he learns something new that just wows me. It’s almost like he’s on a break and or saving his energy for what he has to show me next.


  2. Jess, it’s hard… can I tell you a story?

    I haven’t been around any friends since May. Just my mom. I came back to campus to “see everyone” yesterday and I was freaking out, because I was afraid that I would get run over by a social truck. Leigh has a new apartment with 3 of her friends, and she had 4 or 5 people over for a little Sunday brunch party. Last year, by the end of the year, I would have mostly hung out. I probably would’ve clung to Leigh, but I would have stayed with the people. This time, I hid under Leigh’s bed (it’s lofted about 3 feet off the floor) after about 15 minutes. That 3 month break was just too long. For Brooke, that 2 weeks was too long. I doubt she’s forgotten how to answer you appropriately, but give her some time to get back into the swing of things, because it can be really, really hard… sometimes, you really want to hide under the bed. Sometimes, you have to.

  3. M also regresses this time of year – she did really well when we were in the States but now that we’re home and gearing up for a new school year in a new school we’ve suddenly stepped way back again. Worst of all she’s back to multi-hour bedtime routines and has somehow developed an intense fear of the dark, which combine to leave her exhausted and thus regressing further because her resources are down.


    Hang in there, things will turn around once she’s back in her routine. Or at least so I keep telling myself.

  4. regression sucks. f’ing sucks. i get hit by a wave of worry every time. but you know, the truth is that something is always underfoot, underground. i know, it sounds annoying and ill-informed from where you sit. but i promise, you, the ground will shift and green shoots will appear through a crack and then you’ll know that all along something was growing. even during regressions.


  5. We have lived exactly that scenario. For our son, though, I figured out that part of the problem has to do with time and memory. He really doesn’t get the idea of yesterday, tomorrow…. Yesterday for him is anytime before right now. And sometimes he doesn’t remember what he did. I’m asking him and he feels it’s like a quiz so he guesses something from a time he remembers.

    Regression does suck, but I hope this just a temporary glitch.

  6. Okay, not to be all Kumbaya about it or anything, but I want to urge you to use the word *transition* instead of regression.

    She’s working on a new leap.

    And FYI? M used to do the same thing. In her more mature years, she tells me that it was hard to discern between what she wanted to do, and what she actually did. And sometimes play vs. reality was confusing.

    You know, maybe K. *did* swim. In her imagination.

    I love the peeps from the office. I can SO hear you guys doing the shorthand.


  7. *sigh* Sending hugs. And I put my money on anything both Drama & Kyra say. Seriously. It’s what’s carrying me through our current debilitating obsession with Mary Poppins. Knowledge/belief that something bigger is blossoming under the surface. Can’t wait to see what it is. xo

  8. I hear you loud and clear! We have been listening to the screams that hadn’t been around since T started speech therapy. The moment his new coordinator calls, I think I am going to cry.

  9. I think the last two weeks before school starts are hardest on everyone. Aside from Nigel’s wonderful response to the CCR concert we went to on Friday, at home he is reduced to nonstop movie-watching and replying with a growl every time I ask him a question. The darkest hour before the dawn, I hope . . .

  10. I think what Kyra said is so peaceful to my heart – that things are happening underground. It’s all about having faith until we see the actual proof of moving ahead once again.

    And I loved what Lydia wrote – unstructured time is really hard for lotsa people.

    I swear, things like this in my life are what remind me to have faith. That lesson is one of the most difficult for me. hang in there!

    XO R

  11. thanks for the comments and suggestions, all.

    the open ended questions are almost always a road to nowhere. during school and camp, i rely heavily on communication from k’s aide for prompts. but she HAD been answering the general ‘what did you do with so and so’ or ‘what was your favorite part of the day’ etc before the last couple of weeks (when a LOT of other things have steadily slid down the rabbit hole as well). anxiety is HIGH and scripts are CONSTANT (dora has become a true princess 842 times a day this week).

    the start of school next week and the return to structure will be a huge relief and no doubt, as many of you said, will bring with it a whole new leap. it always does, but the meantime .. well, kinda sukks.


  12. love what kyra said. sometimes the biggest gains come on the heels of a regression. but girl, i sure do feel you on the back and forth, up and down nature of it all.

  13. I find that a little prompting in my questions goes a long way toward the non-answer answers. Using heads-up info from teachers, I ask “What was the silliest thing you did in the yard today?”, which goes much farther than “What did you do today?”

    Heck, with my addled brain, if you asked me what I did today, I couldn’t tell ya a thing.

  14. Hey J, my non-Autistic six year old Aidan’s standard response to a question about what went on at just about any activity (school, birthday party, play date) has been “played and played” for the past two years. It wasn’t until recently that I could get anymore detail out of him. There is so much I don’t know about autism, and I’m learning a ton from your blog (THANK YOU FOR WRITING IT!), but I smiled when I read this entry, remembering the exasperation of trying to get just one little detail out of him about his day. And both my kids go a little haywire the last two weeks of August and the first two weeks of June. I know you experience this to a much greater degree, though. You’re an amazing mom! Hugs, E

  15. Coop lost his second tooth while I was at work last week – when I picked him up I noticed his tooth missing *the poor woman (who I love BTW) felt horrible cause she didn’t even notice it was gone *… When I asked him I got what I affectionately refer to as “THE WHOSE ON FIRST” conversation.

    Me: Coop your tooth fell out
    Coop: yup
    Me: Where did it go?
    Coop: Nowhere
    Me: well it’s not in your mouth anymore?
    Coop: Nope
    Me: Where did you put your tooth? Did you have it in your hand?
    Coop: Nope
    Me: Did you swallow it?
    Coop: Nope
    Me: Did you have it before lunch?
    Coop: Yup
    Me: Did it fall out after lunch?
    Coop: Yup
    Me: What did you do with your tooth when it came out?
    Coop: I didn’t “DO ANYTHING” to my tooth MOM
    Me: thinking god “help me find the right WORDS”….
    Coop: Mom – ssshhhhhh be quiet please!
    Me: This typically means he’s so over my 5 billion questions cause he knows I will go on..

    Phone rings 15 min later – I found his tooth on my bathroom rug 🙂 I’ll put it in an envelope for you…

    Me: Coop, we found your tooth! What’s the toothfairy gonna bring you?
    Coop: Hershey’s Kisses and 45 BUCKS MOM!!
    Me: I better get a part time job.
    Me: Nice telling Coop.

  16. Lydia and Coop’s Mom: LOVE your stories! LOVE them!
    Jess: I feel your pain, gal. It sucks. It really does. What everyone else said, but also, it sucks. Boy, does it suck.

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