(Psst – That’s the expert)
The breathing thing is what really touched me. I know so much about having to cope with things and even when I can’t explain, I can show how to do it. But people hardly ever ask me. Not meant as criticism, it just makes it more special when someone does ask. It feels good to be able to show the things I’m good at.
I remember the first time it happened. I was driving with the girls not long after Brooke and I had gone to New York to see her beloved Godspell on Broadway. In one of those magical moments, we were listening to the soundtrack together and, well, we were happy. All of us. At the same time, doing the same thing. (Hence the magic.)
It was the new soundtrack — the one performed by the actors from the revival, and it was the first time that Katie was hearing it. While the songs were largely the same, there were some notable changes. Katie asked me a question about the song that was playing.
I don’t remember precisely what it was. But what I do remember was that she asked me. And I didn’t know the answer. And I said, “Why don’t you ask your sister, baby? She’s the resident Godspell expert.”
And she did. And Brooke knew the answer. And told her. Because SHE knew. So SHE was the one to ask.
I realize as I type this just how NOT revelatory it sounds. You have a kid obsessed with something. Your other kid has a question about it. You send one to the other to answer the question. Duh.
Well, maybe not so duh.
Brooke needs help with a lot of different things. She wasn’t born hard-wired with many of the skills that the rest of us seemed to be. Language is one of them. It can be hard. So we might not always think to ask.
But we should. Because over the years, she has acquired a whole lot of knowledge about a whole lot of things that the rest of us don’t have.
She can tell us that Dora the Explorer’s last name is Marquez and that her sister’s and brother’s names are Isabella and Guillermo. She can rattle off the Godpsell songs in the order in which they are sung in the show (don’t forget the reprise!) and she can tell us that it’s different than the order in which they are played on the recorded soundtrack. She knows how to spell every kid’s first and last name in every class she’s ever been in and she can tell you what day of the week it was when there was a fire drill in her school in kindergarten.
She knows stuff. But she won’t tell us any of it if we don’t ask. She just won’t.
In addition to what she knows, she can also DO some really incredible things.
Like really, really incredible things. Like things that most adults, autistic or otherwise, can’t do. Like find her calm when on the brink of a meltdown. Like manage to communicate what she needs even with limited access to speech. Like turn chunks of dialogue from television shows and movies into intelligible language. Like overcome her greatest fears. Like do math even when every sense she has is under assault.
My kid has skillz, y’all. And even though she may not have the words to describe them or to TELL us exactly what we might need to know at any given minute, she has the ability to teach us so damned much.
We just need to remember to ask.