is brooke in a faciltiy?
(i've been adding some of my book, "Little by Little" in the blog recently to express why we are where we are).
I started very basic steps with her to get her to verbalize. I got a cup of her favorite juice and filled it so that she could only get one sip. I gave it to her repeating the word “juice.” I did this over and over again. After a few days of trying and trying, I gave Brooke the cup saying “juice”—I got nothing. Then I held the cup out for her to grab, and with a gentle and quiet voice Brooke said “juice.” I was ecstatic! I called my friend on the phone and told her what had happened. She gave me a list of other words and other small phrases. It started out slow, but I saw progress when she began to repeat a few words when prompted.
Espe (a dear friend), mentioned to me the possibility of starting a program for Brooke. This would mean using some therapists and a consultant who lived closer to us. Brooke not only needed help with verbal skills, she also needed help with other basic skills. Espe taught me everything I ever wanted to know about autism. It took me a long time to find a consultant. Consultants design therapy programs for the client to teach what to work on and in what order. Eventually I found one who was three hours away. God sent two therapists to me, too. They did not know anything about how to teach Brooke, so I showed them what I knew. They took off with it—with lots of questions. We had an extra room in our house, so we made a miniature classroom for teaching her. Every moment, whether she was getting dressed, getting on the bus, eating at home, getting a shower, and even getting ready for bed, was “therapy time.” We had many days to make up, and every moment was precious time to us. Brooke did gain some skills, but she still had a long way to go. Each skill she learned was a victory; it is the little things in life I live by—even still to this day.
One year of therapy had ended, and the progress was minimal. Our consultant encouraged us to look at facilities for placement. What! Are you crazy? Me, place my seven-year-old little girl in a facility? All this work we had done, all the small victories that were won, and all the little things that were big just did not seem to be enough. At the age of seven, Brooke still had the mind of an eighteen-month-old baby. I knew in the back of my mind she needed help, especially behaviorally. Her behaviors had gotten so bad: banging her head, hitting the T.V., pulling pictures off the walls, eating objects that were harmful, and hitting her brothers as they walked by her.
One night, Josiah, our middle son, got up at 2:00 am. He had wet his bed and was crying out, “Brooke hit me, Mommy!” I assured him he was okay and showed him that Brooke was asleep in her bed. I knew then that this was not just about Brooke but about our whole family.
On October 1, 2004, we took her to The Learning Tree, a facility for autistic children, two hours away.
Journal Entry to Brooke, October 2004:
Today was the hardest day of my life. Leaving you at the Learning Tree was more difficult than I ever imagined. Before daddy and I left we knelt down beside you as you looked at family pictures from a photo album I made you and we just prayed over you for protection and thriving to learn. You have two roommates in your house. I miss you more than you will ever know. My heart literally aches for you and I have cried for over 50 miles thinking about what you are doing.
As we left Brooke that day, depression set in.