We are reading the Velveteen Rabbit. She touches the rabbit's face with her wee finger and says "Oh, he's got rain on the face."
We're in her autism evaluation and the SLP is having her name picture cards for pronunciation purposes. She is doing well, typically three, I think. At one point she impresses us all by calling a ring an "emerald". Fancy. Then they get to a photo of a girl crying and she says "Dat's a girl!" The therapist asks, "Is she happy or sad?" No response. The therapist prompts, "Is she crying?" KayTar makes some jargoning noises and then looks around the room. The therapist taps the page on the tears. "Oh, dat's wet. Water." The therapist says "She's crying. Do you think she feel sad?" Jargon again. Then nothing. The therapist says, "That's so interesting. She is so engaged and responsive until you bring up emotions and then she's got nothing. You just hit a wall and then she turns into a deer in the headlights. Interesting."
"No KayTar, those are tears. Tears on the bunny's face. Bunny feels sad. Bunny is crying." She says, "No. RAIN. Rain on the face. It's wet."
"KayTar, are you crying?"
"Do you feel happy or sad?"
I wonder what they see, what their tests will show. I wonder what it means. I wonder why emotions are so foreign to her. I wonder why she can't translate them from herself to others. They cannot be weighed and measured. They are not reasonable. Maybe that's it. You can't memorize the ephemeral. You can't regurgitate it. It isn't knowledge to be acquired, it is an innate understanding that grows with time. But to grow, there has to first be a seed. Does she have that seed, I wonder, buried beneath the soil of her soul? Some days I think I see a tiny sprig of green peeking out, but it disappears beneath the soil before I'm even sure of what I saw. One day will it really sprout and grow? Will it stretch it's green leaves to the sun, nourished by the rain from a loved one's face, and finally bloom into the beautiful flower it is meant to be?
Since KayTar knows she is sad and can label that, I would think, that she might, maybe with help, be able to understand that others have these feelings too. I suppose it is possible that it could be a purely intellectual understanding, but, I know that you will give her everything she needs to keep moving.
I hope so Kyla, I hope so. This is fascinating to read but so obviously frustrating and difficult for you...HUGS.
How interesting. The mind is so complex, isn't it? I agree, since she can label "sad" in herself, I think there's hope that one day she will be able to learn to recognize it in others. Good luck with the results of the evaluation.
This post broke my heart Kyla...thinking of you and your own precious "emerald."
as I am sure you know, her flower blooms like a jewel, right now.
Oh, interesting. I can tell you that Munchkin is obsessed with sad and crying and scared and excited right now: all her animals are always 'bonka head a-crying. Sad pig!' or 'bear is a little bit afraid of a-siren' --she's constantly causing pain and tragedy to her furry friends and trying to soothe them. Kinda morbid. It's funny: there's a book we have, where it IS rain on the face of the little animal, but she's always insisting that it's 'crying a-sad.' Weird.
Your capacity to get inside KayTar's world is really the best gift she could have; you're such a keen observer.
she's a jewel, that K. no matter how others might try and define her, no matter the bumps, she's a perfect, perfect jewel.
I wonder if it would help to have a mirror available to her when she's sad - so she can learn to translate the subjective state with its visual appearance? Most of us can't even remember learning to do that - nor is it something we consciously teach - but when you think about it there's no real reason why the visual image of water on someone's face should translate to "sad" (it's not like we see that when we're feeling sad).
Kyla, this was so lovely and sad. Sometimes small children just lack the language to help them interpret emotions - someone I know had a chart on her fridge with a sad face, a happy face, a surprised face... and she would have her little guy point to how he was feeling. Maybe a chart like that would help?
That last paragraph makes my heart want to jump out of my chest for you.
Rain, on the bunnies face.
Rain, on my face... for your emerald and for you.
It's all there, Kyla, it's just organized 'differently', you know? She clearly knows, but in a different context.
I'm sure it must cause you endless worry, and I'm sorry for that. But I wouldn't be surprised if she doesn't end up amazing us all with her insights.
Emotions are a complexity that most adults can't deal with - much less describe or pick up on those intangible things. Expression, even something as basic as tears, can mean so many things. How many folks have misread others and never pick up on what is obvious to others?
I get what you mean when you say "You can't memorize the ephemeral" - but the understanding is so difficult even for those not being tested for those "markers".
Oh Kaytar, so smart and beautiful and so very very complex.
Only been reading a short time but it does seem like she has that seed. Maybe it's just her soil that needs tending...with time(?) I hope for you.
Yeah, that is a symptom- we work with C on it. Different faces and have him imitate (which he loves). They also work on it at DD preschool. I think most spectrum kids can be taught the "big" emotions, it's reading people's subtle cues that confuse them. The seeds are there, I promise. You'll just have to, um, put a lot more effort into that particular plant:)
Hugs to both of you.
Since she can recongize in herself hopefully as she matures she will be able to recognize it in others.
I know emotions are something pre-school hits hard. Grandson is three and there is a chart in the room that the teacher uses with different emotions on it.
Nothing to say that hasn't already been said here.
Hugs to you and yours. Kaytar is such a gem.
That is fascinating. I hope she grows that, because she is amazing in so many ways, it would be nice for her to feel that connection sometime when she gets there, too.
She's so complex.
It makes me wonder if she sees and feels things we can't. If it isn't so much that she is missing peices of life as it is that she is just seeing things in ways we can't imagine.
I agree with what one of your readers said--emotions are so very complex. She may not be able to externalize emotions well, but it seems she understands her own, at least--and this is so important.
i loved how this was written, kyla, loved it.
and the tears? she knows, in her heart, what they mean. the key is finding out how to communicate it.
i hope that the seed is able to take root, but like the others have said, as she is, she is already blooming.
I see what you mean, and I know it's not the same, but if only you could see Persistence daily and how many empathic failures she has. Not the same kind or way, per se. But at 3, empathy isn't developed, and if K has a block, it's just a higher wall. It sounds like there is hope that she can scale it.
What a beautiful, poignant post, Kyla.
I believe in my heart that she'll get there.
I hope so Kyla, and I think so too.
darling. she has the seed, cause she has you, and Josh. She is just not putting words to it maybe, for whatever reason she has.
ach. I'm not trying to give you solution words. Just I get it words.
farck. fumble fumble.
what a beautiful post, kyla.
That was beautifully written. And your little girl is so amazing. She's so bright.
There was something else that came to mind, too, when I read about the disconnect she has between identifying her own emotions, and recognizing emotions in others. Have you heard of some (moderately recent) studies that link such tendencies in autism-spectrum individuals to lower levels of oxytocin?
I saw some references to this a couple of years ago, and it looks really fascinating. Here's a link to a pdf of a 2006 paper looking at effects of administering oxytocin on the identification of emotional speech.
This is sheer poetry, my dear Kyla. It brought tears to my eyes and I still say thank you. I know those questions all too well but could not have asked them so eloquently.
What a beautiful, melancholy post, Kyla. The writing is so haunting.
I like what Bea says about the mirror. Miss M and her dad practice emotions in front of the mirror--they always have. That's what it means to be an actor/director's kid, I guess.
Maybe KayTar is identifying the sensory part of crying before the emotional part? Her answer is totally logical.
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