Thursday, April 19, 2012

Brooke and Autism Acceptance Month

We're featuring "Slice of Life" conversations with Autistics of all ages -- kids through adults -- throughout April's Autism Acceptance Month

Our goal is to help TPGA readers understand that autistic people are people who have interesting, complicated lives and who are as diverse and varied as any other population united by a label.

We are the people in each other's neighborhoods, and the more we know about each other -- the more visible autistic people and children are -- the more common autism acceptance will be. That is our hope.

Because our goal is to show autistic adults and kids being their own awesome selves, today we're going off-script so we can best feature Brooke -- whose mom Jess describes her thusly:

"She is a nine year-old girl whose laughter starts at her shoulders, takes her entire body along for the ride, then sets the room ablaze in light. She struggles mightily yet has an indomitable spirit that powers her over, around or through every obstacle she faces and leaves nothing and no one in her wake unchanged."

"She worked for a month creating the following with an aide at school. It was written using a PECS program called Pixwriter."

Hi my name is [Brooke]. I am 8 years old. I’m in grade 3 and my favorite thing to do is to do pixwriter. I like to publish stories. I like to play with the camping toys. I like to swing high in the hammock. I find the monkey bars on the playground hard. I don’t like the fire alarm because it hurts my ears and I cover them. My favorite thing to do at home is put on plays called sleeping beauty where I am sleeping beauty when my family watches it when it is a video of it when my mom says and now presenting Brooke’s play with singing and dancing. I also like to play Nick Jr. on the computer. I like to watch TV. I like to watch Sesame Street.
Jess says, "As wonderful that self-description may be, it leaves something out. Itʼs missing the energy, the spirit, the essence of Brooke. And that really can only be experienced one way:"

Transcript of video, a conversation between Jess & Brooke:

OK ... can you tell me about this AMAZING picture that you drew?

They put on a play. See the stage?

I do see the stage. Can you tell me whoʼs in it?

Big Bird, Telly, Zoe, Maria, Prairie, Grover, Ernie, Rosita on the stage and thereʼs Fifi, Harry, the elephant, Freddy, Cookie, Elizabeth and Murray Sparkles, Burt, Baby Bear and thereʼs Elmo. See?

I do see. I LOVE that picture.

You do?

I do!

How beautiful is Maria?

Marie is very beautiful. Whatʼs she dressed as?

A princess and what does her sign say?

Let me see - can I see the picture? 


Good job showing me.

It says princess

It says princess on it.


Yeah. That is a really wonderful princess. Hey babe?

What? I wanna see the picture!

We will. Can you tell me (oops) can you tell me the Pooch joke?

Knock Knock

Whoʼs there?


Pooch who?

Pooch your arms around me baby! [Laughter]

Ooh, are you giving me a hug?

Mm hmm. I wanna see the picture!

Hold on a minute!

Can I see it? [Laughter]

Iʼm [muffled by her movement]

Youʼre what?

Iʼm fooling around!

You are? Hey, can I ask you a question?


Whatʼs your very favorite show?

I like ... um the little rabbit runs away.

What is that?

Donʼt know. Can I see it?

Not yet.

Can I please?

Um, letʼs ask one more question. Can I ask one more question?


All right. What is your favorite thing to do?

I like ... um ... hmm ... I like to ... do the Ugly Pear Lop Ala Kazool. [Jess: my best attempt at spelling this -- Iʼm not sure if English spelling rules apply to Brookeʼs language or not :)]

You do? Can you do it?

Letʼs do it together!


[Chanting together] Ugly Pear Lop Ala Kazool! Ugly Pear Lop Ala Kazool! Ugly Pear Lop Ala Kazool!

That is very ... [she barks in my ear]

Ooh, Ruff! That is very silly! Where ya goin?

Now can I see it?

Ok, can you say bye?