of scripts and bras


The difference between life and the movies is that a script has to make sense, and life doesn’t.

~ Joseph Mankiewicz


Two nights ago, at the dinner table:


“When I count to three say, everybody say, “Okie Dokie Artichokie!”

“Brooke,” I say, “remember, you can ASK us …”

She doesn’t wait for the rest of my words. She turns to the handy-dandy all-purpose reframe that she’s learned precisely for this situation.

“Hey, everybody, wanna say, ‘Okie Dokie Artichokie!’ with me?”

“Sure,” Luau and I say in unison, “Go ahead.”

Katie doesn’t answer, but instead looks to me.

“Mama, what happened to us not going along with the scripts? I thought we were not supposed to be letting her tell us what to say all the time – teaching her it’s not expected, remember?”

I don’t mean to, but I sigh. Just a little.

“Well, baby,” I say, “we’ve kind of organically decided to let that go.”

She scrunches her face, her expression landing somewhere between tween disdain and Arnold’s “WhatchootalkinboutWillis?”

I do my best to explain.

“Katie, we’ve talked about how hard Brooke works out in the world every day. This is how she relaxes, how she finds comfort.”

I take a breath. I want to choose my words carefully.

“This is how she knows that she’s home.”

“One … Two … ”

I turn to Brooke. “Give us just one second, okay, baby?”

“Okay,” she says. “Now?”

I chuckle. My fault.

“Okay, give me a MINUTE, okay?”

“Okay,” she says. “Now?”

“Almost,” I say. “Just let me finish talking to Katie.”

I turn back to Katie.

The thing is, she knows that there are things that she can do here that she can’t do outside – or at least she’s learning that. But I just can’t take away the things that help her relax at home just because they may not be functional or appropriate outside of home. Does that make sense?”

The look is now decidedly more “WhatchootalkinboutWillis than tween disdain. It’s not registering.

“Give me one second, Katie,” I say. I turn to Brooke.

“Okay, kiddo, ready?” I ask.


Together we begin to count.

“One … Two .. ”

She stops me short.

“No!” she says sharply, “I will count and then YOU will say, “Okie Dokie Artichokie!”

“Okay, I say, got it. You count.”

Katie is not buying this. With good reason.

Programs, strategies, conversations, years of How Do We Stop / Reshape / Redirect / Repurpose The Scripting? And suddenly we’ve gone all in. I believe in tweenspeak the question reads OMG WTH is wrong with these people?


Brooke counts.

“One … Two … Three!”

We all play along. Even Katie reluctantly mails it in.

“Okie Dokie Artichokie!”

Brooke squeals, then yells, “Again!”

We agree to one more time, then all done.

I turn back to Katie, who’s still not buying this.

“Let me ask you a question,” I say. “What is the first thing that I do when I walk in the door at the end of the day?”

“Kiss us?” she asks.

Damn, she’s good. “Okay, what’s the SECOND thing I do?” I ask.

She crunches her nose to think, then giggles.

“You go upstairs and take off your bra.”

“Yup. That’s exactly what I do. Now, let me ask you a question. Could I walk around outside this house without a bra?”

She giggles again, this time with a hint of mischief.

“Well, you COULD, but I wouldn’t recommend it.”

“Right,” I say, laughing with her. “It would not be advisable. For anyone involved. BUT, as soon as I come home, where I know that I’m safe to do so, I take it off. Because I can’t stand having the damned thing on all day, but I know that I have to because that’s what’s necessary and expected. I also know that here, in my home, with my family who loves me, I DON’T have to. I can just be me. Does that make sense?”

She’s still laughing at the idea of her Mama walking around bra-less.

“Baby,” I ask again, “do you get what I’m trying to say?”

“I do, Mama,” she says.

And then adds, just to be sure we’re clear, “Just don’t go out without a bra, k?”

It’s all I can do not to answer, “Okie dokie, artichokie!”


Ed note: If you are the parent of a child who scripts, or work with people who script, or know or have ever met someone who scripts, I really, like REALLY, highly recommend this post by my awesome Mama friend, Mom-NOS — Dr Strangetalk or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Echolalia. You’re welcome.


36 thoughts on “of scripts and bras

  1. Thanks for making my day start off happy! It is so comforting to know that my family is not alone in this unexpected path!

  2. I felt as though I was sitting at the table with you (maybe because I have so many times, being a participant in the script and witnessing Katie’s eye rolling or more).

    You used your words well and with humor, as usual and Katie got it. Good job! As your Mom who lived through those “wonderful” preteen and adolescent years, I have to gloat. Ain’t Karma a b*t#@h!

    Love you,

  3. Another one perfectly expressed Jess. I’ve said it before- though we’ve never met, I love you.
    I’ve been struggling with enabling my 5-year-old when she scripts and have reasoned the same way- the kids do work so hard when they’re out in the world and it’s comforting and empowering to know we can always offer them the safest space to be themselves at home. Love love love the bra metaphor- you are certainly one of my favorite writers and she-roes! ❤ 🙂

  4. So I was going to write “Best. Post. Ever. ” but I realize that I may have written that on many many posts so I could be losing my credibility. Maybe Best. Timing. Of. A. Post. Ever.
    This…this is what we are discussing in our home right now. The “safe place” for stimming, scripting, etc. When I asked my son why he does his “silly words” (what he/we call his verbal stimming) he said “it makes him happy.” I know how hard he works at school to sit and work and play with all the other kids…why not let him have the place to just be happy? And comfortable?
    And as you said, home.
    I think it’s incredible that you not only have given Brooke that space to be home, but you figured out a way for Katie to understand it and become part of it instead of fighting it. Or stomping away with hands over ears (which is what happens in my house).
    Now…I just need an analogy that my 10 year old boy would get. Because me taking off my bra isn’t going to cut it. I’m not even sure he knows what one is.

      • For me, it depends on where. My daughter is not big on clothing, but downstairs, on the main floor of the house, we insist on it. There are windows to the street and if anyone comes to the door, she’d be exposed. But upstairs, in her room or walking across from hers to ours – no harm nor foul.

        We did, though, work very hard to teach her that when going to the bathroom she needed to wait until she was in there to strip. That was – and periodically still is – a struggle, but we think it’s important for her safety as well as good old fashioned privacy, propriety and respect for her body.

  5. What a great way to explain it! It is so hard to accept those behaviors at home for fear of what they will do in public. I always call home our “soft place to fall”. That goes for all of us!

      • LOL! that is so funny. I didn’t even catch that. After I gave birth to my second daughter, my older daughter 4 yrs at the time said, “Oh I get it, she has a soft spot” (pointing to the baby’s head) “and so do you” (pointing to my belly!!

  6. I can’t wait to check out that book. We tried so hard to get Daniel to stop the scripting. He has learned when to be quiet at school (he’s in 10th grade). We tried and tried to stop it. Giving him a safe place to do it (his room) keeping it “in his head” blah blah. I finally realized it’s how he communicates. That is his greatest tool. He doesn’t know how to communicate it any other way. AND I realized his peers kind of enjoy it. It makes them remember stuff from when they were little. They are amazed at his memory, they think its kind of cool. It’s a new semester at the high school and a redistribution of the peer to peer LINKS. I ran into a teacher and when she told me there was a problem I got worried. The problem was they ALL wanted to be with Daniel. They all can’t be, of course. But I was so thrilled to think they like him for him.

  7. In tears pre-coffee this morning…. thank you. I think! We are struggling for a balance with our son, “Ivan” (just turned 6 yo) right now in letting him be HIM and learning for outside home. He’s 8 months into ABA & at the team meeting last week the team supervisor told us he wants us to consider dropping some of the coping strategies that we have in place. And after discussing it, let him know which ones. My heart STOPPED. Why would we do that when the ones we have in place HELP him so much?! A week later & we’re still trying to decide how to proceed. I’m on the fence about continuing the therapy. Don’t agree with how “scripted” some of it is or how some things are handled. I keep telling myself it’s for the long-term (big picture). But, am left sitting here wondering when/how to do that & not lose our son. When do we get to celebrate him and his uniqueness?

    So many of your posts really hit home & resonant with me. This one couldn’t be more timely! And bra removal’s the first thing I do, too! 😉

    • Yesterday I wrote, ‘That it is my job to remind anyone who comes near my kid to teach her or guide her that our goal is not to create an adult who is indistinguishable from others, but one who is safe, happy, and as self-sufficient as is possible and comfortable for her.’

      Listen to your Mama gut. if the alarms are going off, talk about why. Talk about the goals. Talk about what the ‘long run’ really means. Please don’t let anyone drown out that inner voice. It’s there for a reason.

      Hugs, mama.

  8. I needed to read this today. My son is scripting incessantly at home, and I have been feeling a little guilty for not redirecting it. But I know he has to do it. Glad I am not alone.

  9. One day I will have to deal with these type situations and in someways already do . Thanks for showing a humour and easy to explain example of how home is safe . Not only for our children with ASD but also for the rest of us who live in the home .

  10. Wow, Jess. This is so my life! Thank you for sharing the MOM NOS Dr. Strangetalk. It mirrors my experience exactly. Definitely sharing for others to benefit from…and not feel so conflicted.

  11. You’re awesome! I hate my damn bra too! Comes off as soon as possible, (we call it “setting the sisters free”) couldn’t stand the idea if not being able to be and to feel comfortable in my own home…. Perfect analogy!!! And I loved mom-nos’ post! Thanks for sharing!

  12. Brilliant analogy! And let’s face it, life is full of double standards, things that don’t make sense but do, the sooner Katie accepts that, the better. For her.

  13. Our son is very much like Bud. He used to repeat what he heard out of context, then he tried to use it in context, and now he is trying to rework the phrases. It’s been a really cool transition to watch over the past six months. If that is how he needs to communicate, fine. Most people understand what he is trying to say. I think that if he needs to do certain things to cope with his environment and it is not hurting anyone, then he should be able to do it. I would rather have him want to reenact a video in the privacy of his home for ten minutes than have him be anxious and upset and act out. Is that so wrong?

    And I am so in the minority in the bra thing. I wear my overnight nursing bra still and I haven’t nursed in over two years! I’m a total weirdo.

  14. ok so..I get the point of the post…but…I zeroed in on the bra because it is the same for me……LOL!! I used to bug my mother as she got older….put on a bra woman! I didn’t get it…but now I soooooo get it. Hate it – it comes off when I hit the door. Also, have a teenage daughter with pretty significant OCD (1 with autism, 1 with OCD – it is so much fun at my house) She says the same thing about scripts…she says “Mom you tell me to try to fight my compulsions and rituals, yet you let Rob script and have all sorts of rituals and order to the way he does things” …..hmmmmmm….I got nothin! I try to explain, his scripts and rituals are his way of “connecting” us to his world. For her, her rituals and compulsions are keeping her from fully and embracing her world. Other than that….I got nothin!

  15. I’m guessing your google search referrals for this one might be interesting …

    In all seriousness, we are struggling with this as well. How much do we just let our son be himself – especially when he’s at home. It’s always good to hear another perspective. Very reassuring.

  16. Brilliant analogy, we cannot walk down the street bra-less with a glass of wine in one hand and chocolate in the other……it just isn’t done, but dear lord if someone tried to take that away in the comfort of our own home, well, let’s just not talk about it because it wouldn’t be pretty!

  17. FWIW, we’re the same way around here. They hold it together all day under the onslaught of sensory input. You have to let them take off the proverbial bra at home. There’s a phrase I’ve never used before…

  18. Thank you for coming up with the analogy I’ve been needing for my son N’s school-based folks, when we talk about why I won’t try to stop him from sucking his thumb. (He’s 12; it’s time. But it’s so far down on my list, and it brings him such comfort…) The bra example is perfect. My only problem is that he doesn’t get that the things I allow at home need to be reigned in at school and in public. Can Brooke keep the echolalia home only? Does she get the distinction? If so, how’d you do that? I need that strategy!

    • It’s only been over the last couple of years that we’ve really been able to talk to her about the scripts themselves, but now that we do, we talk about the fact that they are not expected with peers and teachers etc. She is not always able to (or chooses not to) make the distinction. But natural consequences (peers not playing along, teachers redirecting) are teaching her that they don’t work the same way outside the home. But yes, it’s an ongoing process.

  19. Love the bra analogy, good quick thinking on your part. Andrew works so hard to keep it all together at school, that before we are even in the car at the end of the day, he’s doing his “tv talk”. I asked him why he does it, he said it makes him feel good and he likes to. Good enough for me. Still working on finding a balance for the loud humming/singing he does while watching video clips on the computer or anything on tv that includes music. I want to let him do some, but sometimes it is just too loud for one of us “others” in the house. He doesn’t give me an answer when I try to talk about it because I think it is such an integral part of who he is that he can’t even articulate why he does it. He’s been doing it from the beginning, in the car as a newborn. Thanks for your continued wisdom.

  20. I love this post so much. Our boy is a bundle of stims and tics when he gets home mostly from having to hold it in all day and do what is ‘expected’. Home should be the one place he can just be himself and be accepted for being himself.

    and just so you know I am totally stealing the bra analogy.

  21. I was going to ask for guidance on this at our daughter’s team meeting today! Instead, I forward Mom- NOS’s blog to all on the team and discussed. My daughter is 3, and we are just happy to hear her words! She is SO connected and joyous when I play my part in her (our) scripts. (She’s book-scripter and can memorize a 10 or 20 stanza poem-style book in a day or 2.) I was dreading someone telling me I should redirect or deflect that joy entirely. It didn’t feel right. I also try to mix it up a bit, like Mom-NOS said she did, so it’s a happy mix of connecting in her language and nudging towards novel language.
    Thank you! (And glad your girls have a soft landing at home… All your girls). 🙂

    • Rea’s comment above popped up in my inbox and brought me back to this blog post. “Scripts” caught my eye. My comment is a precious piece of our family history. Because a year and a half ago, scripts were almost the only way our daughter interacted with us, aside from simple Yes and No and requests.

      Fast forward 1.5 years and our nearly-going-to-Kindergarten (oh my!) daughter rarely scripts at all. She is a chatty, bubbly, happy, bright light. She knows that scripting with family (any family, grandparents had their scripts and roles) is totally okay, but that peers won’t know the scripts and might be confused. She can handle a one or two turn-taking conversation and answer questions (even from strangers like cashiers) appropriately.

      We dove into the scripts with her, we had fun. She learned her words mattered and were heard and were always always honoured. And when she was ready to more creatively use that rolodex of language she had memorized in her amazing brain, we were right there with her.

      For this, I will always be so thankful to Diary. So deeply thankful for showing me the way, so many times.

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