Preschool conference ~ 2007

“So, now that we have some strategies in place for facilitating play for Brooke at home, we’d really like to try to come up with some play dates for her.”

“That’s a great idea.”

“So we we’re hoping to get your feedback on who might be a good fit for her. We were thinking about starting with Lizzie. They seem to have so much fun together.”


The BCBA’s face has changed. Bubbly and smiling has turned to quiet and concerned.

There’s an awkward pause, then she haltingly continues, obviously measuring her words.

“It’s just that well .. they aren’t exactly .. um .. I’m not sure how to say this. They’re not really such good influences on one another.”

She says influences as one would say cancer. But ya know, contagious.

I picture Brooke and Lizzie, doing what they do every time they see each other.

They have this silly script they’ve fallen into. We call it doing the Doh Kas. They jump up and down and say “Doh Ka!” together again and again. It has meaning to no one but them. It’s their thing. Two little girls who thrive on knowing what to expect have come to know exactly what to expect from one another. It’s just not what’s expected by the rest of the world. So it’s not ok.

“Oh,” I say, deflated. “I guess that makes sense.”

We’re all so focused on giving Brooke the tools to interact ‘typically’ that I accept this as an answer.

For a while.

Meeting with Dr Dreamy ~ 2009

“I just .. God, I just know how desperate she is to connect with people, Dreamy. I see it every day. She tries so damn hard to reach out. I just want her to have a friend. Just one damn friend.”

He hands me the tissues that he always keeps handy for our visits, then looks at Luau and me thoughtfully.

“Have you sought out any other children on the spectrum for her to spend time with? I would imagine that she would find some sense of connection in those relationships.”

I nod, but I am quiet.

Evolution is afoot, but deconstruction takes time.

The BCBA’s face – quiet, concerned – looms.

1:2 Specialized Yoga class – April, 2012

Becky’s Mom, Mary and I are sitting in the lobby waiting for our girls. We’ve struck up a chat with another mom, there with her two children – both on the spectrum. Mary is telling her how before we arrived, Becky was worried that Brooke might not be coming.

“She misses her so much,” she explains. “They used to be in the same class. Every year from preschool up until second grade, they were together.”

“We used to joke that they’d be going to prom together,” I interject.

The other mom laughs.

Mary smiles. “Yup, they were so good together. It was really difficult when Becky went into a different classroom this year. Every day she asked where Brooke was. It broke my heart to see her without her buddy.”

“So this is a huge treat for them,” I say. “We’re thrilled that they’re able to do yoga together and spend time with each other.”

When Luau and I met with the yoga teacher and she asked if I might know of someone who would be a good fit to share the time slot, it had taken me about twenty seconds to come up with Becky.

When their session is over, the girls come bounding out of the room – separately, but together. Mary and I bid the other mom goodbye and gather the girls into the elevator. Even before the door closes, Becky walks over to Brooke and asks to hold her hand. “Sure, Becky,” she says. Mary and I look at our girls, then at each other. We are both beaming.

The four of us get out of the elevator and step out into the fresh air. Within thirty seconds, the girls are doing ring-around-the-rosy. Yup. Two nine year-old girls holding hands, ringing-around-the-rosy on the sidewalk.

Mary looks at me. “They just get each other, you know?”

Oh how I know.

My heart swells watching my girl – our girls, together.

Their connection to one another and their joy in each other’s presence is palpable.

Is their interaction ‘typical’?


No, it’s far more than that.

It’s extraordinary.

*photo used with permission, names changed as always

41 thoughts on “extraordinary

  1. How wonderful for both Brooke and Becky. That connection to another girl has been elusive for my daughter but we are stil looking.

  2. I long for this kind of friendship for C. Your descriptions of Brooke are so like him. He is so open and friendly and loving in a world where people are so reserved and guarded from such a young age.

  3. Beautiful! I long for the same with my daughter, Helen. One day she took off from me and started running up our street. I yelled to her “Helen stop where are you going?” I often ask her questions as though she would answer even though she never does but this time she did. She said “Go see the kids” It broke my heart. Unfortunately “the kids” weren’t out. When they are, she doesn’t speak she just forces herself into their space with a huge smile and tries to imitate them. They usually just stand there in the end staring at her with expressions on their face that you know they’re thinking “who are you to come and just play with our stuff?” She is in her happy bliss just to be around other kids playing even if they don’t get it.

  4. Aidan went over to the neighbors house yesterday and as I watched, okay stalked from the window, they played and chased each other and played some more. Gio is typical, and a bit younger than Aidan, but who cares. They played TOGETHER and I couldn’t have been happier.
    Later I asked what games they played, ghost stories and robbers, with sticks as guns-and this momma has never bought a gun in her life for my boys. Guess what, I couldn’t have cared less that he played with “guns”. I’m pretty sure that Aidan is not going to turn out to be a psychopath and go on a robbing/shooting spree anytime soon. Nope Aidan wants to be a dancer on Broadway, and who knows where he will end up…..Remember DOAM,
    “Anything is possible”~Kevin Garnett.

  5. How wonderful! Once again the knowing inner voice of a mother sees more clearly what is “best”: love, friendship, understanding, comfort.

  6. You know the joke about what you call the doctor who graduates last in his class at medical school? Doctor! Same with the teacher. Sometimes they just have no clue about what makes a good friend. So happy for Brooke to have someone to connect to and understand what friendship means. Last week I watched my daughter and her “best friend” flap their way through Target. They had a blast.

  7. Birds of a feather – makes me happy! We spend a lot of time trying to force our kids into our idea of what normal is (not you, per se, but it’s the royal “we”) based on the world, doctors, teachers, specialists telling us what normal means. I’ve changed a lot of my goals for O in the last year – yeah, there are still lots like “functional language” (getting there), but it’s more “happiness.” “Friends.” I went to see O at school last week and was darn near blown over by the FRIENDS he has. Typical. Autistic. Down’s. Hell, some second grader said, “Hey, O!” in the hall.

    I like these goals better. And think about your friends over the years. The ones you partied with, the ones you made art with, the ones you go shopping with, the ones you cry with. We interact with everyone differently, and in our own way, and in the way that makes that relationships most meaningful and effective. No one labels it or deems it a bad influence (well, most of the time…lol); it’s just how that relationship works, and how it makes you both happy and grateful for each other.

    Rock on, Brooke and Becky. In your own way.

  8. Best.Post.EVER. This made me bawl my eyes out while smiling like an idiot. (My husband thinks I lost it! Ha ha!) LOVE LOVE LOVE this.

    There is NOTHING better than a friend who “gets” you and doesn’t ask you to change for them.

  9. That is beautiful.

    I watch my daughter struggle to interact with other kids. She just doesn’t seem to understand what to do. One little boy in her class who is also an IEP kiddo has really taken a liking to her. He loves to play with her even though she doesn’t interact regularly. It’s pretty cute.

  10. that is just the sweetest picture in the whole world, i love it.

    amazing how difficult it can be to form basic connections, such a confusing process, often a painful one. and yet there brooke is having fun with becky, sharing their own bond and language, it’s wonderful to see.

  11. For anyone who has struggled to find a friend..or struggled watching his/her child find a friend, it is heartwarming to read this beautiful encounter. Extraordinary, indeed.

    I absolutely loved the ring-around-the-rosy picture!

  12. Love, love love LOVE this post. So happy for your girl to have such a friend…

    I would think many of us fear that our children may never have a real friend. This is beautiful and hope-provoking. Love.

    (I have been having the same messages from our BCBA. Time to rethink those.)

  13. Jack’s best friend is on the spectrum and is so much like him. He has never found anyone else like that. He has had a couple of girls who have been wonderful to him and love him and he loves them and they are friends. But as for kids that Jack seeks out, makes plans with, and TALKS to? This kid on the spectrum. Just like Brooke and Becky, they GET each other. They are comfortable with each other. They don’t have to explain things to each other. And you’re right, it is extraordinary.

  14. Truly extraordinary! Beautifully hopeful post. Still hoping for my baby girl to find a friend she wants to spend time with. Her preschool program is mostly 1:1 all day (which is amazing) but doesn’t allow for alot of social interaction amongst her classmates. But she is starting to talk about the kIds in her circletime group! Yay!

  15. You have discovered the miracle of friendship (or rather, Brooke has). My teenager (yikes) best friend is from her early-start preschool for speech and they continue to be the best of buds. Joyously giggling about inside jokes the rest of the world doesn’t belong to, it’s really just the best thing ever.

  16. Kind of off topic… but does it ever rain where you live?? 🙂 The sun is always shining in your photos… seems blissful compared to the drizzly northwest coast.

  17. That just might be my favorite post ever too……..who the heck needs typical??!!! What we need most is as many moments of pure happiness that we can get.

  18. that’s my constant prayer for my boy… one friend. he loves his sister and they play so well together but she’s going to start school next year. she’s so bubbly and friendly, i know she’ll leave big brother behind. and she should have friends but i want him to have them too. i don’t know that he has any friends in school this year. he’s friendly to the kids and they say good bye to him at the end of the day but there doesn’t seem to be one for him to really connect with. i’m not giving up yet. just patiently waiting and praying.

    so happy for Brooke and Becky!

  19. Kids say and do all kinds of weird stuff, friends or not. Just the other day a tyke walked up to me at a school and said, “I’m going to be big and fat like you when I grow up!” and I said “No you won’t, because a big brown bear is going to break down your door and eat you instead.”

    Then I said . . . “A mouthy kid is a tasty kid. Ask any Bear and they will tell you.”

    I had my strange routines and missives and secret exchanges too. But now I am bigger. Big and fat, like the kid said. And not eaten. Yet

  20. How very special for all of you. There will be many others in the future because Brooke wants it to be. As her skills and, yes, her perception matures she will know where to find her special people.
    It makes me smile deep inside to read your words and what they mean.

  21. we’re on the same page! just yesterday i wrote about how my girl and the wonderful children in her life are teaching me about real friendship.

  22. What a beautiful sight – two friends who delight in just being together!! It’s what every person wants and Brooke is so lucky to have!! This was just “extraordinary”!!

  23. That’s beautiful:) Its what we want so bad is our children to have friends but more so when we have a child on the spectrum. It is extraordinary:)

  24. oh how I long for this kind of friend for my daughter! we interact with the “mums group” friends which is mostly NT kids, but they accept her mostly as she is, but there’s no special friend for my bellamia yet.
    she’s young, so I’m hoping that as we join more social groups within the ASD community, and as she gets older, starts school etc she’ll be able to find that special someone.
    so I’m glad your Brooke has that! it gives me hope that one day my dd will too!

  25. Pingback: Autism Hero Highlights

  26. I hope for this for my girl. Typical schmypical– I just want her to be able to connect on her own level. And as with all things Emma, it will happen in her own time.

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