The Soul of an Octopus

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Friendship

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Tonight we attended a picnic to celebrate the end of the year with Friendship Circle.  Coco’s best buddy, Rebecca, is graduating.  Rebecca’s friendship, and everything about Friendship Circle, has been the greatest gift to Coco.  Tonight, Rebecca and Coco exchanged letters about what this year and this friendship meant to them.  Coco expressed her feelings in a poem.

 

For Rebecca

A GOOD FRIEND IS THE CURE FOR LONELINESS

A BEARING TO KEEP YOU STRAIGHT ON YOUR ROAD

A CANDLE IN THE DARKNESS

AND A BALM TO YOUR HEART.

EVERYONE NEEDS FRIENDS LIKE THAT. REBECCA YOU ARE MY FRIEND.

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Helen Keller

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Coco wrote this speech for a language arts assignment for school.  She read two biographies to prepare.  This piece was a little slow going – she has been spelling a little more slowly and less fluently for the past couple of weeks.  You can watch a little of her working on this piece here –  

https://youtu.be/X_dHxLDJ7dQ

 Her spelling is no less deliberate or accurate than before, just a little slowed down.  I think it is just a bump in the road and I have been trying to help her exercise her pointing skills with as many structured RPM lessons as we can fit in.  We will also be happy to have time with wonderful professional practitioners in the near future.  Coco and I are REALLY looking forward to summer break from school when we can focus our days on skill-building and RPM.

CAN YOU IMAGINE BEING TRAPPED IN A LIFE OF SILENCE? DESTINED FOR A LIFE OF ISOLATION? I KNOW ALL ABOUT THIS AND I FOUND A KINDRED SPIRIT IN HELEN KELLER.

FROM THE FIRST TIME I HEARD ABOUT HELEN KELLER I KNEW AT LAST THAT IT WOULD BE POSSIBLE FOR ME TO BREAK FREE FROM MY PRISON OF SILENCE. SHE WAS AN EXAMPLE OF A PERSON WHO DID THE VERY THING I DREAMED OF DOING. YEARS OF SILENCE ALMOST BROKE MY SPIRIT. BEING VOICELESS CAN MAKE YOU WANT TO GIVE UP ON LIFE. HELEN FOUND A WAY OUT AND I COULD TOO.

HELEN KELLER DID NOT REMEMBER WHAT IT WAS LIKE TO SEE AND HEAR BECAUSE SHE WAS ONLY 19 MONTHS OLD WHEN FEVER LEFT HER DISABLED. SHE ONLY EVER KNEW DARKNESS AND SILENCE. THE DAY ANNIE CAME TO BE HELENS TEACHER IN 1887 WAS THE DAY HELEN WOKE UP FROM HER NIGHTMARE. ANNIE OPENED THE WORLD OF LANGUAGE TO HELEN. BEFORE ANNIE ALL HELEN DID WAS LASH OUT IN FRUSTRATION. I KNOW EXACTLY HOW THAT FEELS. ENTIRELY ALONE AMONG PEOPLE DO THE VOICELESS SUFFER. DAY AFTER DAY BECOMES A LIFE OF MONOTONY AND LONELINESS. ANNIE TAUGHT HELEN TO SPELL WORDS IN HER PALM. SOMA MUKHOPADHYAY AND MY MOM TAUGHT ME TO SPELL WORDS ON A LETTER BOARD. JUST
LIKE ME SHE FACED ACCUSATIONS THAT THE WORDS WERE NOT HER OWN. I INTEND TO PROVE MYSELF JUST LIKE HELEN.

HELEN KELLER MADE IT TO COLLEGE. SHE GRADUATED IN 1904 FROM RADCLIFFE CUM LAUDE WHICH MEANS WITH HONORS IN LATIN. SHE WAS THE FIRST BLIND AND DEAF GRADUATE. PERHAPS I CAN BE THE FIRST NON SPEAKING AUTISTIC TO GRADUATE FROM SOME PRESTIGIOUS UNIVERSITY. A COMMON TRAIT I HAVE IS PERSEVERANCE.

MARK TWAIN FAMOUSLY SAID (quote) THE TWO MOST INTERESTING CHARACTERS OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY ARE NAPOLEON AND HELEN KELLER (end quote). WELL I AGREE. NOT ONLY DID SHE BREAK DOWN BARRIERS FOR THE DISABLED SHE ALSO FOUGHT TIRELESSLY FOR THE RIGHTS OF WOMEN AND OTHERS. I ALSO STRIVE TO BE AN ACTIVIST FOR EQUALITY AND JUSTICE. WITH HELEN KELLER AS MY GUIDE I CAN DO GREAT THINGS TOO.

 

 

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Coco and I had a very interesting conversation tonight. I am sharing it with her permission. Some press came out today about amazing developments in Rett Syndrome research.  Scientists are extremely close to gene replacement clinical trials. I asked Coco what she thought of this.  I also asked her why she doesn’t identify herself as a Rett girl.  She continues to call herself an autistic.  Not a girl with autism, but an autistic.  This may not sound very PC but I allow her to be the authority on what she chooses to label herself.

A MENTALITY OF DISABILITY IS WHAT GIVES RISE TO LABELS.  ALTHOUGH I AM ATYPICAL FOR RETT ALSO AM I ATYPICAL FOR AUTISM.  DISABILITY IS A STATE OF MIND.  DONT PRESUME TO KNOW THE INNER WORKINGS OF ANYONE YOU MEET.  I AM ME.  I AM SUPER AWFUL AT CONTROLLING MY BODY.  BUT I AM SUPER GOOD AT LOTS OF STUFF.  EVERYONE HAS ABILITIES AND DISABILITIES.  YOU CANT SUM ANYONE UP WITH A LABEL.  AUTISM CAN MEAN A NUMBER OF THINGS AND I FEEL COMFORTABLE WITH OTHER AUTISTICS.  CAN I CALL MYSELF THAT?

Yes Coco

OK.  DAD JUST BELIEVES IM AN ALIEN FROM OUTER SPACE.  EVERYONE ASSUMES WHAT THEY WANT.

I don’t think Dad really thinks you’re an alien.

EAGER TO APPLY MY ABILITIES FOR DOING GOOD IN THE WORLD.  DONT BOX ME IN

Ok Coco.

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100 Wishes

Coco’s homework assignment tonight was a “free-write” poem.  Of course she chose her favorite subject, the moon.  I love, though, that she makes references to her 100 wishes quilt.  Alex and I ordered this quilt (from real Chinese grannies – or so we were told!) for Coco right after we received the referral for her adoption.  It is made with 100 squares of fabric, each representing a wish for Coco.  It was waiting for us upon our arrival in China.  it has always hung on Coco’s wall, across from her bed.

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DANCING MOONLIGHT

FLICKERS ACROSS WALLS OF YELLOW

TYING THE KNOTS OF 100 WISHES FOR ME

CHINESE GRANNIES TIED THOSE KNOTS

TIED THEM TIGHT

TYING ME TO THEM

TYING ME TO CHINA

 

DANCING MOONLIGHT

HITS THE SHELVES

FILLED WITH THE BOOKS I LOVE

FILLED WITH ALCOTT AND KIPLING

AND BRONTE TOO

CANONS I NEVER DREAMED ID READ

 

DANCING MOONLIGHT

COMES TO TICKLE MY DOWNY BED

READING MY DREAMS

LIKE THE GRANNIES READ

THE DREGS IN THEIR TEACUPS

DEAREST TO ME

DARKEST MY FEARS

 

DANCING MOONLIGHT

COMES TO MY ROOM

FORGIVES ME MY AWKWARDNESS

COCOONS ME IN BLUE LIGHT

ROCKS ME TO SLEEP

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Happy birthday Grandma

 

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Today is a very special day.  Today is the 82nd birthday of Coco’s favorite person (sorry mom, for calling out your age but you are a wonder of nature and we admire you so).  Coco call Grandma her “SOUL MATE.”  And one of the first phrases she ever spelled, just over a year ago, was “I ADORE HER,” in reference to Grandma.  This is Coco’s birthday poem for her beloved Grandma…

AT A BEND IN THE ROAD

AT A BEND IN THE ROAD

YOU GESTURED ME TO FOLLOW

YOU JARRED MY MEMORY

AND BROUGHT ME BACK

YOU WERE ALWAYS THERE

FROM THE BEGINNING OF TIME

HERE ALL ALONG

AND HERE FOREVER MORE

THE ROAD IS LONG

AND WE WALK IT TOGETHER

YOU ARE MY TOUCHSTONE

YOU ARE MY HEART

 

As a little birthday bonus, here’s the one she wrote last year too…

 

I HAD A DREAM

A CARING GRANDMOTHER

DEEMED HEIR TO A MESS OF LOVE

EVER BEAUTIFUL

EVER VITAL

SOME IDEAS OF SENIORITY

INCLUDE AGIST NOTIONS OF VEINED AND TIRED CRONES

BUT NOT YOU

I HAVE THE QUEEN OF ALL GRANDMAS

 

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Between the Moon and Me

 

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BETWEEN THE MOON AND ME

ANGELS ARE ARRANGING GOSSAMER CARRIAGES

TO DELIVER MY DREAMS TO GOD

BETWEEN THE MOON AND ME

ON FIREFLY WINGS

THE SECRETS OF THE AGES ARE WRITTEN

BETWEEN THE MOON AND ME

LOVE NOTES AND SECRET HOPES

GET PASSED BACK AMD FORTH

BETWEEN THE MOON AND ME

BEAMS OF STARLIGHT

ILLUMINATE THE MYSTERIES

BETWEEN THE MOON AND ME

ARE ALL OF MY CLEAREST VISIONS

FOR A BEAUTIFUL LIFE

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O Joyous Day

Coco and I had a rare afternoon of not too much homework.  It feels like there’s never enough time lately for RPM lessons and creative writing so we took the time to do some skill building.  Then I asked Coco if she had any poems in her heart and she said YES.   

After she completed her final verse I asked her who she was speaking to in the poem and she said HASHEM.  I asked her what will happen on this joyous day and she said REALLY NOT SURE BUT IT WILL INVOLVE BEING ABLE TO COMMUNICATE.

 

O JOYOUS DAY

YET ANOTHER AVERAGE DAY GONE BY

YET ANOTHER BEAUTIFUL BEGINNING

KEEPING WATER IN THE SOIL

EVEN THOUGH THE AIR IS DRY

FIND THE MEANS TO PRAY

IN THE MIDST OF AMAZING AMBIVALENCE

YEARS ARE NOTHING TO THE SOUL

THIS TIME WILL PASS QUICKLY

GONE TO YOUR OLD HIDING PLACE

ON A SEARCH FOR YOU

BUT YOU WERE OUT

ZEALOUSLY ATTRACTING NEW FOLLOWERS

AT FEATS OF STRENGTH I AM HOPELESS

BUT I AM THE CHAMPION OF PATIENCE

YES ILL WAIT

FOR THAT JOYOUS DAY

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Teenager Dreams

On this dreary, wet, cold night, Coco had a homework assignment to “free write” for 5 minutes.  And this is what came out.  I was not planning to post it.  My sister came over for dinner and I shared it with her.  She and I shared similar teenaged (charmed, beautiful, blessed) experiences – years apart but in the same place.  Through teary eyes she said ” you should post it.”  This one just felt intensely personal to me, but I asked Coco.  “Should I post it?”  Coco’s repose was “ABSOLUTElY.”  I’m not sure why Coco wants this shared.  She’s tired today and still eating her dinner and I just don’t want to pester her too much.  But from previous conversations with her, I think I know why she wants it shared.  Coco wants the world to know that not being able to speak doesn’t mean she has nothing to say.  Not being able to control her body doesn’t mean she doesn’t have the same feelings in her body as everyone else.  This piece was a poignant reminder for me.

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TEENAGER DREAMS

 

I DREAM OF TELLING SECRETS OVER CUPS OF COCOA IN FUZZY PAJAMAS TOWARDS MIDNIGHT

I DREAM OF FOOTBALL GAMES AND POM POMS

I DREAM OF YELLOW STARS OVER OPEN WATER SPARKLING WITH BONFIRE REFLECTIONS

I DREAM OF TEST DRIVES AND LEARNERS PERMITS

I DREAM OF JUMPS OFF THE BRIDGE

HOLDING HANDS

STRING BIKINIS

I DREAM OF FIRST LOVE

FIRST KISSES

I DREAM OF PROM DRESSES AND CHIFFON LAYERS

I DREAM OF FRIENDSHIP AND ALWAYS LOVE

 

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Thankful

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Coco’s response when I asked her what she is thankful for this year

I AM THANKFUL FOR ONE THING MORE THAN ANY OTHER

MY ETERNAL LOVE AND ETERNAL FAITH IN GOD

ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE THROUGH GOD

I HAVE ONLY GOD TO THANK FOR MY FAMILY WHO LOVE ME

BECAUSE OF HIM I HAVE A VOICE AND THE HEART TO USE MY WORDS TO HELP OTHERS

AS LONG AS I LIVE I WILL USE MY GIFTS TO DO GODS WORK

AND GIVE THANKS FOR ALL IVE BEEN GIVEN

Happy Thanksgiving Day

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