brooke answers – an allegory

A couple of very important notes about what you are about to read …

Firstly, Brooke wrote it on her iPad and asked me to read it aloud to her last night. When I asked if she’d be comfortable with me sharing it here, she generously said yes. I have left it unedited.

Secondly, and very, very importantly, it is not original. It is, rather, her retelling of one of her favorite story apps, Andrew Answers, written by Alan Katz and narrated by Marc Summers. It is almost exactly the same but for the names and a few small changes, but the credit for the story is entirely Mr. Katz’s.

To be clear, I am not affiliated with the app or anyone involved with it in any way, but I do highly recommend it. Brooke LOVES it and, as is made obvious by her ability and desire to retell the story, it has clearly had quite an impact on her.


{image is a screenshot of Andrew Answers title page. Click on it for more info}

Thirdly, this, to me, is far more than a cute story. It is an allegory about autistic or otherwise divergent communication and how it is often received by a neurotypical world.

Watch what happens throughout the story. Abby (Brooke’s Andrew) does exactly what is asked of her at every turn. The problem isn’t that she doesn’t understand the questions. It’s not that she doesn’t know how to answer them and it’s certainly not that she is, as the adults seem to imply, being defiant. She is simply answering in a way that is not obviously correct – to them.

Sound familiar? It’s all about perception. It’s all about taking the time and effort to see past what we THINK we are seeing and hearing to what is really happening. Abby is communicating perfectly; and yet she’s getting into trouble because she’s not being understood. What if one of the adults along the escalating line – just one – had stopped to listen differently? Just one person HEARING her would have made all the difference.

So before I turn it over to Brooke, I’d like to extend a huge thank you to Alan Katz for this brilliant story and to Marc Summers for his adorable and engaging telling of it. Buy the app. Show it to everyone and anyone who interacts with your kid (or you!). It’s the best $2.99 I’ve spent in years.

(Again, this is NOT a sponsored post and I am NOT affiliated in any way, shape or form with these folks. I just love that their story means this much to my kid and I’m hoping that if I promote the heck out the app, they’ll be okay with her riffing off of it.)


{image is another screenshot from Andrew Answers. In this one, Andrew is standing in front of the teacher’s desk.The teacher is saying, “Andrew, can you tell the class a word that starts with the letter N?” Click on the photo for more info.}

So here goes. I know that the formatting and somewhat creative punctuation might make it a little tough to read, but I thought it important to leave Brooke’s writing of it intact.

The whole thing started in Mrs. Mulligan’s class. Mrs. Mulligan asked: Abby, can you tell the class a word that starts with the letter N? And Abby said: No! Abby, Please tell us a word that starts with N.: said Mrs. Mulligan. Never.: said Abby. Abby, you know the letter N.: said Mrs. Mulligan. Now what do you need to say for yourself? Nothing.: said Abby. Abby, if you don’t name a word that starts with N,: warned Mrs. Mulligan. I will send you to the principal’s office. Nonsense.: said Abby. So Mrs. Mulligan sent Abby to see Principal Hiper.

Principal Hiper said: Abby, perhaps you do better with a different letter. Can you tell me a word that starts with W? What.: said Abby. Abby, take a deep breath and tell me a word that starts with W.: said Principal Hiper. When.: said Abby. Now, young lady.: said Principal Hiper. Why.: said Abby. Principal Hiper tried again. Please. Please. A word that starts with W.: she said. Whatever.: said Abby. Okay Abby.: said the principal. Let’s try another letter. Can you tell me a word that starts with L? Later.: said Abby. Abby, try again.:said principals Hiper. Lunchtime.: laughed Abby. That did it. Principal Hiper called Abby’s mom and dad into the school.

Abby’s dad said: Abigail, why not try I. Impossible.: said Abby. Abby’s mom said: What about C? Can’t.: said Abby. Letter R?: said her dad. Ridiculous.: said Abby. I know.: her mom said. Letter S. Stupid.: said Abby. Before long Abby was sent to see the school board.

The head of the school board said.: May we have a word that starts with the letter A? Absurd.: said Abby. How about E? Enough.: said Abby. Please try T. Tomorrow.: said Abby. We’re looking for a better answer. Tough.: said Abby. Abby was sent to the Mayor’s office.

The mayor said: Abby, please tell me a word that starts with G. Goodbye.: said Abby. Abby, let’s stop this foolishness.: said the governor. You can go back to your classroom if you tell me a word that starts with F. Foolishness.: said Abby.

Abby was sent to see the president of the United States. The president said: Abby, your teacher, the principal, your parents, the school board, the mayor and the governor told you to say words that start with certain letters of the alphabet. So please speak for yourself. Abby said: Anybody Big Can Do Everything Funny. Go Home In Jerk. Kelly Likes Moving Not Opera People. Quick Run So Type Units Very Good. Wahoo. X-Ray Your Zipper. Abby was sent to go to college.

Abby was sent to college.

How bout that?

You go, Brooke, you go.

Er, Abby. I mean Abby. 🙂

Buy the app here.

11 thoughts on “brooke answers – an allegory

  1. Unbelievably awesome! Instead of listening to the word take the time to realize that they did indeed start with the correct letter. Love love love her alphabet sentence.

  2. Pingback: brooke answers – an allegory | Spectrum Perspectives

  3. The awesomeness of this! I…Can’t…Even! I can’t even put into words, or think of any ADEQUATE WORDS as to how I feel about Brooke’s rendition of this story! Amazing! Just, AMAZING! You GO, Brooke! You GO TO COLLEGE! SHOW THEM ALL!!!! 😀

  4. This is amazing! I’m sharing it with my son (also autistic) who likes to sing songs to answer questions.
    He was continuously getting in trouble until a very kind SERT recognized that he wasn’t challenging the teacher, just answering in his own way. She figured this out when she asked him a science question and he sang the periodic table of elements.
    (he is currently sitting on you tube watching songs and memorizing/singing along)

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