one day, two letters, and one very, very proud mama

~

Ever since pre-school, Luau and I have insisted on – and participated in – a LOT of communication with Brooke’s school team. The centerpiece of said communication has always included a school-to-home and home-to-school log book. Each and every afternoon, she comes home with a full report on her day and each and every morning, she heads off with a full report on her night.

About a year and a half ago, her aide began to insist on Brooke’s participation in the communication process. At first, it was rudimentary at best – a small selection of the egg-heads with which we are all so familiar to represent emotions, followed by a couple of choices of typical activities in which she might have participated for her to circle. That was it. And that was HUGE.

By the end of this past year, the eggheads disappeared and the notes became Brooke’s. While they were obviously prompted – and all followed exactly the same pattern every day – there was no missing that they were hers. The emotions began to include things like ‘I felt silly when ..’ and the activities were more like ‘I did the ugly pear lop ala kazools at snack time.’ There was no doubt that they were coming from my girl.

This summer at ESY (extended school year), the practice has continued. However, as is her way, Brooke has begun to put her own twist on what was already well, her own twist. Now it’s even twistier. Or Brookier. While the letters were originally designed as a tool to communicate with us – her family – about her day, she has begun to write them to other kids in the camp with whom she spends her day.

She types the letters, which is something she is growing increasingly proficient at. She loves the time at the computer and is apparently happy as a clam writing to her new friends.

While parents often choose to bronze their baby’s first shoes, I’m seriously mulling over ways to preserve the following. I think you’ll see why.

7\9\12

Dear Aimee,

At camp today I saw a brand new friend named Danny. It was his first time here at camp today. I loved him. He was a good friend of mine. He was so nice. I also did the activities. What was your favorite activity? I liked playground. I felt happy when I rocked on the playground.

Yours truly,

[Brooke]

There are so many things to love about that incredible letter. So much progress contained within its sixty-one words. So much to celebrate. So with it tucked away in my virtual pocket, I headed home for the day, grinning like a fool.

As it turned out, that was only round one.

When we told Brooke that Katie was going to camp for three and-a-half weeks this summer, she processed it in her own way – mostly by watching an old favorite show – the Blue’s Clue’s episode where Steve ‘leaves for college’, to be replaced on the show by his younger brother Joe. She scripted the show nearly constantly the week that Katie left. It was her way of creating a framework for something that was pretty hard for her to grasp. Pssst … If these kids don’t amaze you yet, you haven’t been paying attention.

She would ask the questions that the Blue’s Clue’s gang had asked Steve. Like Tickety Tock she asked,”Katie, will we still be friends when you go to camp?” Like Slippery Soap she asked, “Can you write us a letter?” She even asked, “But who’s going to live with us when you go to camp?” which led Katie to explain that Brooke would be home with Mommy and Daddy and that well, since we’re not a Nick Jr. show, we don’t really need a new host to come and stay with us.

When I got home from work last night, this was on the kitchen counter.

~

(Reminder, I suck at Photoshop so I can take real names out, but I can’t replace them with anything but smudges. So please just play along and pretend it says Dear Brooke, Love, Katie, mmkay?)

~

And that is the story of one day, two letters, and one very, very proud Mama.

The end.

31 thoughts on “one day, two letters, and one very, very proud mama

  1. Stories of more “leaps and bounds” by Brooke and a great way to start Grammy’s morning. My granddaughters are amazing little people!

    Love you,
    Mom

  2. I love this so much even though I read it prior to 6:00am for some strange reason ;oP
    I adore your girls <3<3<3
    So… How many more days/hours/minutes/seconds until Katie returns? XO

  3. How beautiful! Such hard work to write those two letters and Im so jealous Im turning green! I hope, wish, pray, dream, beg for the day my boy comes home and tells me about his day without the usual prompting. I’d have those letters laminated and sleep with them under my pillow! LOL

  4. That’s just AMAZING!!!! Brooke’s progress is just astounding! The communication of so many things, on so many levels, wow! Thank you for sharing it with us! And see, time is flying! At our last count I believe it was some where around 17 days until Katie came home. Now it’s just over a week until your sweet girl is back home with her family! I can not wait to hear about her experience at camp!

  5. I so remember the days of communication books going back and forth….what a lifeline. How wonderful both of those letters were from your sweet girls. Obviously, your family “gets it.”
    How nice it was for us to see the Fedex man with a wonderful package for my sweet girl….It brought such a smile to her face…thank you for being you, Jess

  6. I am thrilled that both girls are at camp. I strongly feel that everyone should have that experience when they are ready. Time by yourself is an important growth step. And others coping without you is also a big part of being a family. I am thinking about your family during this time.

  7. Awesome in so many ways!!! ps Brooke writes MUCH better than most teenagers with autism that I know! That is so wonderful! What an amazing communication tool!

  8. You have every reason to be proud of your girls. They are awesome.

    I’ll add though, that my daughter scripts Blue’s Clues too. That show was so well done; that my kiddo can find ways to express HER feelings and thoughts through THEIR words.

  9. I love your idea of a log book. I hope you don’t mind that I borrow it for my son. We have our 1st IEP this summer (headed to his 2-9 meeting this morning), and I think this is a brilliant idea! I want to have it incorporated into his IEP.

  10. I read your posts daily and they fill me with hope for the future. The thought of Maddie telling us how she feels is beyound my grasp at the moment. Reading about Brooke’s progress and the love she has for her older sister is a daily dose of therapy. Anything is possible. Thank you.

  11. I’m usually immune to your wily ways of making mammas cry, but this one got me! To see the progress that Brooke has made because of consistent individualized education and committed, engaged teachers/staff, not to mention the love and understanding of her awesome sister Katie, is pushing my emotional buttons today. I just learned that my school system has decided to fire 170 SpEd teachers, just one month shy of the start of school–after already adding even more furlough days, increasing teacher/staff costs for insurance, increasing class sizes in both general and special ed, and firing 300 parapros. How do our elected officials think our children make the progress that they make? Do they have any clue how committed these teachers, parapros, and therapists are to our children? Do they think our children will continue to reach their potential with less attention? I just wanted to say a quick “Wow, great job Brooke!” Now I have to get back to the hard work of fighting the school district for the rights of our kiddos.

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