I wrestled with whether or not to share this. With as much as I tell you, there is, of course, far more that I don’t. Some things simply are not appropriate for public consumption. And normally this would have fallen squarely into that category.
But ever since I wrote to Brooke’s team yesterday morning, I’ve had this nagging thought.
You see, I wrote a post yesterday about my anger at a teacher who might have helped my girl. And didn’t. Who might have shared information that would have prompted us to take action earlier. And didn’t.
When you know better, you do better.
I know better.
So I’m choosing to share this because I think it HAS to be talked about. Because it’s real. And it’s terrifying. And because we need to figure out how to keep our kids safe. More importantly, we have to figure out how to give them the tools to keep themselves safe.
I’ve scrubbed the following e-mails of the more personal details. I am desperate to find the line between protecting my girl’s privacy and protecting all of our children’s innocence. I pray I am on the right side of that line.
One note ~ I realize that without the details, the following may give the impression that something sinister has happened to my girl. I assure you that is not the case.
I wanted to make you aware of a conversation that I had w Brooke at bedtime last night. As I kissed her goodnight she said [something that I found very disturbing.]
I tried not to overreact, but told her somewhat firmly that [no one can] touch our privates. That only a doctor or mommy or daddy can when she needs help showering or if she has a problem.
Since her sole response to this was [not reassuring] I had no way to know if I’d gotten thru.
As squeamish as I am about writing this, I felt it was necessary on a number of levels. Firstly, to solicit any and all suggestions / resources about how to teach Brooke to keep herself safe (and not desperately inappropriate). Secondly, because we all know that she scripts conversations and I can only imagine what would go through your head if she walked into school [repeating my words.]
I’m thinking that perhaps a social story would be a good place to start, but Lord knows it will have to be carefully written. We are also going to call the neuropsychologist that she worked with last year (looped in on this e-mail – hi, E) to see if she has some suggestions – perhaps a way to deliver the message through play therapy / dolls.
I’ve long been concerned about Brooke’s vulnerability as an abuser’s perfect victim. Last night forced the reality of that concern into sharp focus.
Your thoughts on this are very much appreciated.
Sent from my iPhone
I got a number of responses, ranging from ‘Thanks for the heads up” to “I’m here for you.” Not one of them questioned the validity of my concerns. Which was both reassuring and terrifying. Even when you know you’re right, you still hold out that hope that someone will be able to prove that you’re not.
But there was one response that was different. One that offered comfort, action, the beginning of a plan. One that got me breathing again.
O.K, we can handle this….try not to worry too much. […] What this is is an alert to us that now is the time to start actively teaching Brooke about body parts and privacy and touching, etc. etc.
I have a friend who made a great chart of a person with all of the body parts that you could/could not touch and who can touch…I will email her now and see if she still has it and if so if I can borrow it. I think that a social story could indeed be helpful, I wonder if having her help create it on the iPad would be good as she expresses herself so well in her art.
I would be happy to take a stab at this.
I am confident that Brooke has the ability to learn how to protect herself from anyone who could potentially want to take advantage of her in this way. It’s time to get to work on this.
I’ll let you know if I can get that body poster…if not, I can make one and show it to you to see if you think it is okay.
I wrote back last night. It was late and I desperately needed sleep, but I had to tell her. She needed to know.
Please know how grateful I am that you are in my baby’s life. (And mine.) There are tears streaming down my face as I write this, but I need you to know how much it means.
Years ago a dear friend of mine gave Brooke a beautiful silver cross engraved with the words “Angels shall guard thee.” And they have – her entire life they have.
You are one of those angels, lady.
Sent from my iPhone
I thank God every day for the angels who walk with our children – who do everything in their power to help us guide them, teach them and to keep them from harm.
In the end, our kids need every tool we can give them to keep themselves safe.
It’s hard enough to talk to neurotypical kids about this stuff. It’s awkward; it’s uncomfortable and it’s scary. Teaching your autistic kid about it is, well, terrifying. But it has to happen. In some form, whether through conversation, play, technology, pictures, social stories, it simply has to happen.
As we figure out how to approach this, I will share resources here. If you have any experience with this or ideas / suggestions / resources, I’d be most grateful if you’d leave them in the comments below.
I pray I’ve made the right decision in sharing this.
In the meantime, may God – and his legion of angels – keep all of our babies safe.