what i want to tell you – blogging in nine minutes

I woke up late this morning. Like really late. Like hit the snooze button for nearly an hour of nine minute intervals late. And there’s so much that I want to tell you, but I now, somewhat ironically, have exactly nine minutes left to write. Wait, was that really irony or a fly in my chardonnay irony? Damn it, I just lost a full minute.

Power blogging … commence.

I want to tell you that when I was speaking at the Early Intervention conference, I was talking about how, for me, respect for our children demands that we make our very best attempt to look at anything and everything that we do from their perspective. (I also mentioned how ironic I find it (the real kind of irony – this time I’m sure) that while the ‘experts’ talk so much about autistic folks struggling with theory of mind, it’s so often the NT population who really suck at taking their perspective.)

Anyway, my point was that to avoid hurting our kids in the name of helping them, we need to put ourselves in their shoes. I told them that if they ever think it’s appropriate to redirect a child by grabbing his face and manually turning him in the direction that they believe he should be looking, or by putting their hands on either side of his face as “blinders” as so many still do, they should first ask someone to do it to them and see how it feels — and to keep in mind that they still can’t really know how it feels because they are a willing participant in the experiment. I promise you, if they allow themselves to think, really think, about how it feels, they’ll stop doing it.

I told them why demanding “Quiet hands” (<– Click on that link. Trust me.) is never okay. And then I told them about Brooke’s hands. I told them that, as I’ve written here before, My girl feels her way through the world. It’s what she does. It’s the way that she learns. It’s a big part of who she is. Sensorial experiences mean far more to her than the words that the rest of us arbitrarily assign to them. And isn’t that the way it should be? The essence of feeling itself more valuable than our suspect attempts to describe it?

I told them that her hands are finely tuned instruments – collecting data, sorting and storing information, registering and cataloging thousands upon thousands of moments in a life lived through touch.I told them that her fingers are her antennae. That her nails scratch to see what’s just below the surface. Her fingertips rub and poke and push to read texture, temperature, density, elasticity, porosity. That the feelings, the senses — they are her memories. That they are what matter.

I told them that it takes a lifetime of trust for my daughter to give you her hand, and that is why it is so incredibly violating to presume the right to try to take it without asking. I told them that it’s why hand over hand instruction is not EVER okay without TRUST and CONSENT. I told them that it’s why grabbing her hand to pull her into a line or redirect her will invariably result in an ‘unexpected’ yelp. Not really so unexpected if you stop to think about why.

To grab her hands, I explained, is to strangle her point of connection with the world, or, as I said in the conference, “no different that putting your hand over another child’s mouth.” It’s not okay.

And I want to tell you that I snapped this picture of her yesterday, doing what she does — touching her world — and it made me happy.



{image is a photo of Brooke feeling the bark of a tree last night, as she does}

I want to tell you that I was thinking about Please and Thank You and why teaching both of my children to use them every single time they are called for is so important to me. I want to tell you that I realized why.

Because life is a team sport. Because the strongest among us are the ones who know better than to try to carry the weight alone.

I want to tell you that I want my children to know …

When you need help from others, ask for it (respectfully).

When you are able to help others, do so (graciously).

When you receive help from others, accept it (gratefully).

I want to tell you that I really, really want them to understand that there is weakness neither in humility nor in gratitude. I want them to see that both self-confidence and community blossom in their fertile soil.

Damn it, I am so out of time. One more though. Just one.

I want to tell you that last night, we visited C, a neighbor (and friend) whom we haven’t seen in far too long. As we were leaving, she asked Brooke if it would be okay to give her a hug. I want to tell you that Brooke stood still, clearly searching for an answer and that, God bless C, she waited. As Brooke was clearly not completely comfortable, my impulse was to jump in and suggest to her that she offer up a pinky hug. I squashed it. And waited. After a solid minute of silence, Brooke opened her arms and said, “How about a group one?”

And I want to tell you that so it was that the three of us huddled into a group hug in C’s kitchen. And that Brooke squealed happily. And that I might have too.

I want to tell you that last night I told Luau that my baby girl never ceases to impress me. That she has learned so much about what she needs to make her world more comfortable, more accessible, less hostile and less frightening and less overwhelming. That she’s learned that what is presented (in the way that its presented) is never the only option. And, by God, she’s learned to offer up another for herself.

And I know I’m completely out of time, but I really want to tell you just how awesome I think that is.


8 thoughts on “what i want to tell you – blogging in nine minutes

  1. Brooke is, indeed, an awesome child and as I’m so often fond of saying, she’s growing by “Leaps and Bounds”. I am one very proud Grammy!

    Love you,

    (Now, get to work young lady).

  2. Your no-time gotta rush power blogs make me think, make me smile, turn the light on in places I need to see. Thank you, enjoy your Friday!

  3. Beautiful. ALL the feelings.

    Through a fog of my own (only two snoozes, but only because I knew if I hit that button again I was Never Getting Up today), I thank you for expressing so articulately exactly how I feel about ANYThing that does not meet my G in a place of *total* mutual respect and *equal* honor.

    I am SO glad I have never seen anyone try any of those hand blinders on my child – though he does enjoy making his hand binoculars quite a bit…For Himself.



  4. Thank you for that! Happy Mothers Day to you and all the moms that read this blog. I think we’re all pretty special :). XOXO

  5. Pingback: get the right response (Autism) | lovin' adoptin'

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