This is a conversation I had with my mom about my communication beginnings, and the joy but also the challenges of it. This touches on a future theme of Leo in Bloom, about the difficult sides of access to and life after Spelling. But for now, let’s focus on the absolutely thrilling side of gaining communication!
D: How are you, Mama?
M: I’m full of emotions, but I’m just fine
D: Me, too. I want to chat about how it felt to see me Spell for the first time!
M: Yeah, I’d heard so many good things about this method, but I honestly wasn’t expecting it would happen for you so soon. “Gosh, it is true!”
D: How did it feel to realize that I could communicate?
M: Oh, over the moon! Yeah. I was so hopeful, definitely. I actually cried with happiness. All sorts of feelings – I was realizing all sorts of things can happen now that I knew you can communicate, and your mind was thinking so deeply. Incredible how you developed that ability! It was a miracle to me.
D: I was so overwhelmed with emotions!
M: Me, too. I was holding hands with Eira, and our eyes were wet…
D: Can you tell me how it felt to tell Papa and Tara?
M: Of course we couldn’t wait to tell them! Papa was so enthusiastic, but I don’t know if he actually believed yet. Tara cried. That was actually incredible joy, overwhelming emotion.
D: When do you think Papa realized it was real?
M: I think he always thought it was possible, but it really became real to him when he saw you Spelling when EV came to San Diego. He had to see it himself. He was so impressed.
D: I understand, it is hard to believe if you don’t understand the process.
M: Yeah, definitely. It was amazing how EV drew you out. Can you tell me – did she “dance with you”? [how our family describes ways of aligning with Danny, including co-regulation in general as well as being his CRP]
D: [laughs] Yes, totally! Of course that is because she is one of the top practitioners and she is so experienced working with nonspeaking autistics. I could so strongly feel she believed in me.
M: I see… once you felt or realized, “people believe in me,” it makes you like Superman?
D: Well, it makes me not feel hopeless! Which is a first step toward being Superman!
M: That’s true for me, too. If people believe in me, it gives me confidence and I want to show I can do it. Seeing you communicate was the biggest surprise and joy and hope – realizing that Danny is thinking, like me. We’re in the same world. That really gave me hope.
D: That is powerful. I could sense your shift in viewing me. I could totally feel it. You and Papa always believed I was smarter than the schools believed, but you had no way of knowing more. It was so frustrating not being able to show you.
M: It must have been. Like screaming but nobody hears. I knew you were smart, but I didn’t know how much you had your own person, judging and deciding for yourself. I thought, okay, I have to teach him everything, but now I know you’re making up poems in your mind – that was beyond me. Knowing you are so creative, so marvelous in your mind, all sorts of things happening in your mind… I had no idea before. When you first Spelled, realizing that, “Danny is understanding,” changed my view of how to help you.
Realizing that you were making your own judgements about what you want to do, I was very very happy, but at the same time felt we have to be very careful to not squash that down.
D: How did it feel when I got fluent with Tara, in my daily life?
M: Like an explosion! Like all the flowers in the garden, all the bees and butterflies! Like, this is it! I was so happy for you. Just happiness. And also was in awe of your intelligence.
I feel so, so bad that it took so many years to get you to regular communication after the first time in Portland. Especially now that I know you thought in Portland it was, “That’s it, my world is open!” and how high your hopes were… Eira and I tried to practice, but didn’t go so smoothly, and financial stress meant I had to work so much – 12, 13, 14 hours a day. So it all just pushed, pushed, pushed us from making progress until we met Dawnmarie in San Diego.
The main problem was I couldn’t put myself into it totally. It was difficult without guidance nearby.
D: Candidly, I was heartbroken when no one learned to Spell with me. It hurt so much. It was why I was so dysregulated in 2016.
M: I am so sorry. I feel that you are so unlucky with our circumstances, with my having to work and I had so little confidence in my ability to help you communicate. I feel so down now that I realize how much you really needed it.
D: I hoped you all would just know how much I needed it. But it is in the past. And you worked always so much to support me in my health and our living logistics, and you are the one who never gave up on me. And you are the one who brought me to S2C. And you are human and I love you.
How does it feel now that we can communicate almost fluently?
M: It’s wonderful, I’m so hopeful. This momentum, I’ll make sure, won’t slow down ever again. Just because you have other CRPs who are more fluent doesn’t mean I should slack off!
D: Damn right!
D: I want to be able to chat with you directly and we are almost there! You are just needing a little more faith in me and in you!
M: You’re right!
D: Okay, let’s go get lunch!