Sunday, October 30, 2011

It's a Famiracle (In Three Parts)

I. Last week I was in California for a conference and one afternoon I called home to check-in with our girl and her dad. I was planning on staying in California for an extra day, so I told our girl that I would be seeing her grandmother, and also possibly her two uncles. "Great," she said, "Tell them I said hi, would you?" I almost dropped the phone in shock. Although this would be an ordinary conversation for a neurotypical family, it was extraordinary for us.

II. Right after I got back from my professional conference, there was another conference, of the parent-teacher variety, the first of the semester. We view these events with a great deal of trepidation. Typically we are told that our girl is too this or too that, or not enough this and not enough that. But this year was different. Because our girl is an eighth grader, she is invited to the conference. It's a parent-teacher-student conference.

Perhaps because she was there ("nothing about us without us") the conference took an entirely different turn. We learned that our girl scored highest of any student on their history exam and is the most sought-after study partner for history because her notes are the most complete. Everyone wants to study with our girl. And she's having no problem managing her anxiety from the bell or the passing period. The only thing they'd like to see her work on is talking with other kids at lunchtime (which she still doesn't do).

Instead of discussing our girl as a bundle of pathologies and deficiencies and sites for remediation, we were talking about her strengths.  A conference that included her required that everyone present focus on her assets and progress. We had a hard time hailing a cab to get home because we were all floating about ten feet above street level.

Wall Street Occupation during October 29th snowstorm.
Photo: David Shankbone, CC license, use with attribution.
III. This morning the sweet girl and I were talking about the unusually early snowstorm, and she brought up the impact of the weather on the Wall Street occupiers.

"You know," she said, "Some of them have gotten hypothermia."

"Really?" I asked, "How'd you know that?"

"Read it on the iPad news app."

"Yes," I said, "the police took away their heaters and generators."

"Why'd they do that?"

"Because they want them to leave."

"Why do they want them to leave?"

"Because the people in the government want them to go away, but other people want them to stay, so they brought them blankets and tents and warm clothes."

"It's a famiracle," she said with glee.

"What's a famiracle?

"It's a combination of something that's fantastic and a miracle."

"Where'd you hear that?"

"I made it up."

"Wow, that's great," I said.

"It could also be a wonmiracle."

"What's a wonmiracle?"

"Something wonderful and a miracle."

•  •  •

I have to pause to take in the developments of the last week:
  • Thinking of others, and letting them know you're thinking of them.
  • Academic achievement, and sharing your skills with others.
  • Reading the news on your own, concern over the well-being of others, and word play.
This, from the girl who was said to be incapable of thinking of others.
This, from the girl whom we were told would not learn to read.

It is fantastic. It is wonderful. It is a famiracle. And a wonmiracle, too.

Wall Street Occupier during October 29th snowstorm.
Photo: David Shankbone, CC license, use with attribution


kristen spina said...

So happy to read this. Wonderful, all around!

RR said...

All these developments are so great--thank you for this post & all your posts!

audball said...

Such great news! Way to go, M :)! I love hearing about your girl because it makes me so happy and hopeful for mine. She's an awesome kid (but you already knew that!)...!

MothersVox said...

Thanks so much Kristen, RR, and audball! I am still stunned (and thrilled) by this progress.

Somedays I wish I were a neuroscientist -- or knew one -- so I could inquire about what happens to the brain between age 13 and 14. She's just about to turn 14 and it almost feels as though someone switched on a whole new dimension of her personality.

I wonder if other parents of kids on the spectrum have noticed changes like these at adolescence . . .

Dixie Redmond said...

This is such a beautiful post. Thank you for writing it. :-) When my son was in early teens we saw a lot of those signs of awareness and processing we hadn't seen before then.