Something happened yesterday that was hugely helpful and gave me some staggering new insights. I’m hoping this might be helpful to others as well… The details do not matter, so don’t get caught up in them.
Em and I do the same thing every Wednesday morning, we go visit B. whom Emma loves and also types with. But this time someone else asked to join us and when I asked Emma what she thought, she said out loud, “Yes!” She said it with a great deal of enthusiasm, as though she liked the idea. However I have learned to always verify any spoken words with some other type of confirmation so I held my two index fingers up and said, while indicating the left one, “Yes” or, and then indicated the right finger “no”. Emma repeated “Yes!” and pointed to my left finger. Satisfied, we joined the third person and made our way up the street.
A few blocks from our destination, Emma began saying out loud, “City tree house.” This is a place for small children and it has been the cause of a great deal of anxiety. I could see, by both the expression on her face and her tone that she was becoming increasingly upset. By the time we arrived at B.’s Emma was really worried, anxious and very unhappy. I was doing my best to talk to her about city tree house and how it is one of those places that caters to very small children when Emma sat down next to B and typed, “You did not listen to my words last time.” I, thinking she was referring to another conversation we’d had the week before asked if she was referring to that conversation, but she said she wasn’t. She said that she did not want this other person, who was now sitting in the room, there. The person said not to worry and immediately got up and left the room
After they left I said, “But I asked you before we left Emma, so I’m confused,” Emma then wrote, “If anxiety rises after choices are made then it may be inaccurate.”
What followed was an incredible conversation about how a decision can be made only to realize that it is the wrong one. When this happens, go to scripts that are based in memories of anxiety begin. As we talked I suddenly remembered a conversation I had several years ago with my friend Ibby. This was a time before Emma was typing with us and I was asking Ibby for her thoughts about some of the things Emma would say out loud that I found baffling. Ibby told me that I mustn’t try to do a word for word translation, but needed to feel the emotion behind the words and try to understand the context that way. I remember being utterly confused by Ibby’s explanation and suggestion, but now, today, I get it, in a way I have not understood until now.
I asked Emma to verify all of this before writing about it and she affirmed that I am understanding it correctly. In the past I would have gotten all tangled up in the specifics of what she was saying. I would have sought to reassure her about whatever it was. But now, I understand that these scripts can serve as so much more. They can serve another purpose. They are less about the words spoken and more about the emotions that are attached to them. So when Em is happy she will often speak of some of her favorite people. She might reference something that happened more than eight years ago, but that made her feel safe, or a specific time when she was really happy. I’ve always thought these memories were nothing more than that. Memories she enjoyed voicing out loud, but nothing more. But now. Now, from what she typed, I understand that they are much, much more than random memories. They are a kind of communication bridge. A way of saying, I’m happy! Or I’m feeling really sad, or this is causing me terrible anxiety, but it’s more than just a vague statement about a feeling, it’s actually a brilliant way of trying to convey much more. It’s a way to communicate a whole series of feelings.
The more I think about the conversation we had, the more I feel I am understanding. Those scripts are like flashbacks in a movie. They give us a tremendous amount of information and are symbolic of so much.
Cynthia Kim of Musings of an Aspie wrote about scripting too – Echolalia and Scripting: Straddling the Border of Functional Language (funnily enough Cynthia and I have done this before, written about the exact same topic on the same day!)