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March 15, 2011 / paperkids

The great outdoors

Oh, how we love the great outdoors!  I’ve found that sometimes the simplest outings are the best.   On President’s Day, we took a trip to Huntington Gardens.  It’s one of those things that I initially wanted to do out of guilt and because everyone else on facebook was posting all the great things they were going to do for the holiday.  You know how that goes! But I got really excited about it.  We were over-due for an outing – we needed to escape the house!  I was going to drag our butts off the couch, by God!  I pumped myself up for doing something as a family just like everybody else.

When I think back, my favorite memories from childhood were going down to the creek to swim or fish, playing in the woods, or the times we would build a fire and sit under the stars.  I’ve been trying to make more of an effort to take our family on outings away from the house.  Sometimes it can feel like we are all trapped at home – isolated in this three bedroom box with doors and windows.  It’s good for all of us to just put the stress and expectations of daily life on the shelf for a while.

So we packed up as little as we could and headed off to the gardens.  We decided to go there because, when I asked Emma what she would like to do, she typed out “I would love to see a pretty garden”.

The car ride was a little hard as Emma is having a hard time when we stop or slow down for any reason.  But I know that it’s something that she has a hard time controlling, so we just try to work through it.  We lucked out to have an unbelievably gorgeous day that was warm in the sun and cool in the shade.  The great thing about the gardens is that the kids can just walk and walk and we don’t have to stop for a crowd or worry about going in a specific direction.  WE are totally free!!

OH, how I loved running through the woods as a child.  I watched the kids run ahead of me and had to stop myself from tearing after them every time they got more than a couple of yards away.  I’m so used to being  totally overprotective that it takes some effort to watch them run and explore.  Gosh, they must feel a little smothered by me at times.  But I hung back.  I want them to have this freedom so badly and it  felt so good to let go a bit.

The cactus garden, koi ponds, Japanese garden, greenhouse, Chinese pavilion, streams and the hands-on children’s garden – we saw it ALL!  We even diverged off the trails and felt like real explorers. It was exhilarating to be in nature.

Hayden ran through the trails, saying “Garden, garden!” and Emma listened to the water and felt the breeze.

I know that Emma and Hayden have a different set of circumstances than I did as a child, but when we’re walking on the trails or watching the water fall, I am reminded that we share a love for the same simple pleasures.  I think our biggest love, however, is just being together.

Sometimes I make slide shows of different things, mainly because I love pictures and music, but also because the kids love to watch them.  Another thing we have in common.  I decided to make a slide show of our outings to the great outdoors so we could watch it when we’re feeling cramped up in the house.  We can watch it and remember the stream, big koi fish, blooming flowers, and the soft breezes.   And for those few moments, we can place our worries on the shelf again.

Here is a slide show of a picnic in the park and our visit to the  gardens. The song is Moth’s Wings by Passion Pit.  Thought I’d share!

March 6, 2011 / paperkids

“R” for Rewire

Emma marched in the house from the school bus one afternoon and plopped down on the couch.  She was visibly upset in a way that was unusual.  Sometimes she has behaviors that are impulsive and sensory based, so that it seems like she might be upset, even when she’s not.   Thank God now I can communicate with her to find out!  I sat down with the ipad.

Me:  “Emma are you okay?”

Emma:  I am a smart girl

Now this is something that I’ve heard many times from Emma.  It was one of the very first things she wanted me to know when she started communicating.  For so long, everyone had treated her as if she didn’t  understand much (including me too many times to count).  Why wouldn’t she want to tell me how smart she was over and over!?

Me: “I know you are!!  Why, what happened?”

Emma:  Some kid called me retarded at recess

My heart just sank. And then Emma did something that she doesn’t usually do, and it really broke my heart.  She just started bawling.  She whaled and covered her face with her arms, mouth wide open, tears falling from her eyes.

She wasn’t able to tell me who this kid was.  It can’t be easy for kids like Emma.  They work SO hard to accomplish what the world wants them to in order to “fit in”.  None of those kids will ever know how hard she works to keep her body calm, communicate, learn and all the while have the most sincere desire to be a part of a social scene – to belong.

The “R” word makes me cringe when I hear it these days.  I guess before I had a child who was diagnosed with mental retardation, I might have never given it a thought.  Or maybe I would have.  The thing is, that I don’t remember hearing it slapped across the mouth of every child, teenager and adult as I do now!

There happens to be another “R” word that I’ve seen Emma type out many times : Rewire.  She uses it to talk about personality, or rather the changing of personality.  She tells me about how she works hard to rewire herself and also about how she thinks people should also rewire their minds –  change their perceptions about autism and disabilities in general.  There’s that old saying that sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me.  Well, I’m not so sure about that.  Words are very powerful, even when thrown around in a casual conversation between friends.  We’ve probably ALL been guilty of using the “R” word.   But that word causes pain.  It brought many tears and negative self-perceptions to my child.

I think it’s important for us to stand up for those who may not be able to stand up, or speak, or behave in the “typical” fashion.  Our world needs a little “rewiring” of our minds to better understand and be sensitive to those with disabilities.

Here is a poem that Emma typed out last year and I think it’s fitting.  She picked out the picture to go with it, too!

I know it’s hard to change a slang and especially one that everybody is saying, but please  JUST SAY NO to the “R” word!!!

That is all.





February 28, 2011 / paperkids

The Travelers

Emma:  I want to be a world traveler

Me:  “What would you love to see the most?”

Emma:  I want to see it all

When I watched the trailer for Wretches and Jabberers for the very first time and I watched these two men traveling to other countries and speaking with their keyboards to a group of eager listeners,  I was overcome with joy – a face full of smiles and tears.  They were doing it!!  They  were bridging the gap between the world’s misconceptions of autism and the beautiful realities of those individuals behind the label that are, after all, “more like you than not.”  The words of Tracy rang loudly and the sound was wonderful: “To move people’s knowledge of disabilities to a positive place.”

Add to the list of my heroes, Larry and Tracy, the extraordinary men at the center of  this new documentary by Gerardine Wurzburg. Wurzburg is the award-winning director of Educating Peter and Autism is a World.  The synopsis on the site for the film reads:

In Wretches and Jabberers, two men with autism embark on a global quest to change attitudes about disability and intelligence. Determined to put a new face on autism, Tracy Thresher, 42, and Larry Bissonnette, 52, travel to Sri Lanka, Japan and Finland. At each stop, they dissect public attitudes about autism and issue a hopeful challenge to reconsider competency and the future.

Growing up, Thresher and Bissonnette were presumed “retarded” and excluded from normal schooling. With limited speech, they both faced lives of social isolation in mental institutions or adult disability centers. When they learned as adults to communicate by typing, their lives changed dramatically. Their world tour message is that the same possibility exists for others like themselves.

The website for the film is a goldmine of inspiration!  I just couldn’t get enough of the extras on the site.  There is some wonderful footage of Larry and Tracy as they screen the film for the first time and there are  several videos of them touring different cities discussing the film.  Another little goodie you’ll find  are the  fellow travelers, who are from various countries around the world.  All are writers and advocates and all have found their voices by means of facilitated communication.   Chammi from Sri Lanka, Naoki from Japan, Antti from Finland and Henna from Finland – their beautiful writings have touched me immensely.

I want to post ALL of the videos and writing from the site  – seriously!    It’s people like Larry and Tracy who will make the future brighter for kids like Emma all over the world.

I once described my longing to communicate with Emma like swimming to her across a great dark sea.  It seemed like an impossible distance to cross, but I had to have faith that we could make that journey.  I knew it had to be possible because I had seen Sue Rubin and Tito and others learn to communicate.   They were carving the road for us.  And now Larry and Tracy are taking this message across the globe.  This is my passion, people!  I want for an enlightened, educated and inspired future for my children and communication is the key.  Emma has her voice now through typing and facilitated communication and the world has opened up to her in such a profound way.

I think this excerpt from the site sums it up the best! ….

Ultimately, Wretches & Jabberers is about the life-sustaining power of relationships – the personal connections that people make through communication.

We can’t  wait to see the film, guys!!

FYI, the  soundtrack is currently available on iTunes and is a collaboration of a long list of talent – everyone from Norah Jones to Ben Harper to Scarlett Johannson.  100% of the proceeds from the purchase of the album and its individual tracks will go to the Autism Society and the Wretches & Jabberers Fund of the Institute on Communication and Inclusion at Syracuse University.


For a listing of AMC theaters across the country that will be showing the film, click here!!!!

February 21, 2011 / paperkids

The Messenger

Red berries by Sabra Murphy

One of my favorite poems is The Messenger, by Mary Oliver.  The first line says “My work is loving the world.”  I never usually think about it like that,  although lately it seems like an awful lot of work.  I just never think about love being something that we do, but rather something that we feel.

Flower by Sabra Murphy

Sometimes it’s easy to feel like who I am isn’t enough.  Can I possibly give my kids what they need?  It seems like every time I turn around I’m feeling like I’m not doing enough or not doing the right things.  It’s a heaviness that is hard to shake – all this guilt and stress.

When I call and vent to mom she always says (aside from “Pray”) : “Just love them.  That’s all you need to do.”  And I always get just a little angry inside.  Yeah right!!  Like love will save them from a tumultuous present, an uncertain future and one CRAZY mother!!!

But what can I do??  Sometimes, I just want to lay in that pasture in Mary Oliver’s poem.  One of her lines in the Messenger also describes love as :   “mostly standing still and learning to be astonished”.

Maybe love is not only giving, but learning to receive.  Do I believe that all the ingredients are here?  I guess that’s where trust comes in.  Is it really enough to just stand still and let Love work in me and through me?   I once heard an analogy of the clay vessel that’s been shaped, molded, thrown into the fire and then stands there waiting to be filled.  It’s filled with the goodness of the One who created it and that goodness is then poured out into the world.  It stands still, waiting to be filled again.

Perhaps love is what we do with who we are – the best that God gave us – the best gift that we could ever offer another.  Maybe love is sufficient.

Blades of grass by Sabra Murphy


February 15, 2011 / paperkids

Wonderful Anticipation

It’s hard to describe how it feels when I take Emma’s hand and she types out a poem. There’s a flow of energy between us that forms a powerful connection.  It almost reminds me of that feeling that I had when I held her to my breast as an infant.  That may sound strange, but I don’t know how else to explain that feeling of calm that takes place when I can finally sit down with her after a long day.  Sometimes it seems like the whole world disappears.

At first, I had a hard time with the idea of everyone thinking I might be guiding her hand or manipulating her typing in some way.  But  I don’t feel any of that anymore.  This is just how we communicate and I am so thankful that I can help her have a voice.  Times are very hard for Emma right now with behaviors that she can’t seem to control; and her deep desire to speak with her mouth is such a huge source of frustration for her.  Lately we’ve been butting heads and I’ve been losing my patience with her and screaming at her and then feeling guilty for it.  I still have that feeling like I’m never doing enough somehow – like I’m always letting her down.

That’s why her latest poem touched me so much.  I sat down with her on the couch and as she slowly typed out all the words, my heart just filled up.  Because I am the only one she can communicate with,  I am the first to  hear the joy or pain of her heart, her strongest desires, her dreams, her fears and agitations with me and the world.  Some things can be really hard to hear and heavy on my heart.  I ache in her pain and delight in her joys.  That’s why this  poem made my heart smile!

With every poem that she types, I feel like a get to know her on a deeper level – like her soul seeps into every word, opening secret windows into her heart and mind that I can peek into at last.  And what a beautiful place it is.

I just knew that this one was for me.



Afterwards she reached out again.

Emma:  Great time writing this

I guess she wanted to write it just as badly as I needed to read it!

Me:  “I love it, Emma.  So, who are you writing about anyway?”

Emma:  You and God

I asked Emma if it was okay if I shared it on the new blog and asked her if she wanted to put a picture with it like we always do.

Emma:  maybe a picture of you holding my arm



February 8, 2011 / paperkids

Emma via iPad

Back when we were doing Paperkids, I tried a few times to get some video of Emma typing, but  it wasn’t always so easy.  It seems like there’s rarely a good time to sit down and try to get it recorded what with all the many  distractions.  It’s tough for Emma because one sentence can take a while so it’s hard when there are the constant interruptions of a busy household.

I put this together during a particularly chaotic session last year and it’s really more like an outtakes reel.  Between my giggles, Jared’s poor directing (had to say it babe) and  Hayden’s never-ending  requests, it was probably the worst conditions for trying to get a video!   Yet, even amidst all the craziness, Emma is still somehow able to express her thoughts in that uniquely simple and profound way.

February 5, 2011 / paperkids

A quiet mind

I recently watched a video on youtube of a  mother and her teenage son who has severe autism and epilepsy.  She was asking for advice and help because her son wakes in the middle of the night hitting himself in the head.  He is constantly hitting himself.  I watched the video – her face filled with exhaustion and his looking off, a few bumps scattered on his forehead.  I couldn’t help but burst into tears.  Most people will never know the emotional and physical devastation of watching your child harm themselves, seemingly unable to control their bodies.   I watched with a feeling of heartbreak and perplexity.  I sometimes see these kinds of behaviors in Emma, just on a much smaller scale.  She sometimes bangs her head if she’s upset or even when she isn’t.  She scratches herself, pinches herself and at times bites herself.  She goes through phases with her behaviors and sometimes they are worse than other times.   I stared on at this mother’s  desperation and thought that I would  have no idea what to tell her.   Why would her son wake up in the middle of the night to injure himself?  How does he feel inside?

Emma looking at the sky, age 3

Sometimes it’s hard for Emma to explain her actions and her feelings even though she’s communicating now.  Many times she types out “I am tired”, so I know that this plays a role in her world.  I don’t think I’d have the answers for that mom even if I knew everything about Emma because  all these kids are so different.   I decided to tell Emma about the video and inquire again about her own behaviors.  She’s been going through a rough patch and I’ve been trying so hard to understand and believe her when she types out “I can’t help it”.   I explained the story of the boy in the video and asked her what she thought as I held up  the ipad.

Emma:  Sometimes I want to hurt myself to ease the racing thoughts

Me:  “Do you have a lot of racing thoughts?”

Emma:  yes

Me:  “What does hurting yourself do?  How does it help?”

Emma:  It helps me to focus

Me:  “But do you ever hurt yourself and you can’t help it?”

Emma:  yes

I remain baffled in many ways.  A while back, during a particularly violent outburst, Emma typed out, “I yearn to tell you how I process things”.

I want so much to understand all that lies in Emma’s mind so that I could know exactly what she feels and how I could help her more.  It’s as foreign to my understanding as another language, only this is a language that I could never possibly learn.  My only knowledge of it will come from Emma’s words typed out onto the keyboard.

I thank God everyday that I can know as much as I do about her world.  I may not know everything in Emma’s mind and never will.  But I take such great comfort in knowing that God does and remains with her and in her in those depths where no one else can enter.  I know that He gives her a quiet mind.

This song by Blue October always makes me think of Emma.  She “really loves”  it too.   Like I said, we listen to a lot of music around here.  And I love this slide show.  I found it on  youtube a while back.  I’m not sure who made it, but I like the imagery – I’m a sucker for music with pictures.  Unfortunately, you’ll have to click the Watch in on youtube link.

February 2, 2011 / paperkids


Me:  “Hayden, do you want juice?”

I held up the YES / NO board to Hayden and moved it from side to side as his eyes looked all around.  Suddenly he just reached out and touched it somewhere in the middle.

Hayden:  “Yes”

I smiled at this conquest even though I know it’s been hit or miss.  Sometimes, I’ll fire off a string of questions.

Me:  “Did you have a good day at school?”

Hayden:  “Yes” (touching the YES)

Me:  “Is this a cup?” (holding up a cup)

Hayden:  “Yes”

Me:  “Is this a spoon?”  (holding up a plate)

Hayden:  “Yes”

Me:  “Hm. Naw, it’s a plate silly.   Are you a girl?”

Hayden:  “Yes”

Me:  “No, you’re a boy.”

I try to keep a smile on my face and the mood light.  I wouldn’t want him to feel my disappointment even though I do.  I try not to, but I always do.  I try to hand him some lettuce off my plate, knowing he won’t touch it.  He pushes my hand away.

Me:  “Do you want some lettuce?”

Hayden:  Reaching to the board.  “No”.

Me:  “Okay!!”   The natural manner of this makes me smile and makes me feel a twinge of hope.  This is the kind of thing that keeps me optimistic.  A yes or no question could give a lot of information after all.  Most of us don’t think about those small words as very big expressions, but they really can be helpful!

Before Emma started spelling out on the keyboard, I had been using this YES / NO board with her.   Strangely enough, even now she has a hard time with touching it, unless my hand is supporting her in some way.  I’ve been using  the board for a while now with Hayden, always trying to remember to be more consistent with it.   Now that Emma has started to communicate with me, I can’t help but to look at Hayden in a new light.  He has a pretty big vocabulary and can read around 50 + words, but getting him to naturally say the words – to express himself with words that he isn’t repeating – has been slow going.  For example, our conversation might go like this:

Hayden: “Juice! Juice!”

Me:  “Can you say it better?”

Hayden:  “Better”

Me:  “No, can you say, “I want – ” I trail off to try to get him to say it.

Hayden: ” – Juice!”

Me: “Yes, I know, but can you say….”.  I’m trying to figure out the best way to get him to say the sentence without too much verbal prompting but finally revert to my standard: “Say it better”

Hayden:  “I want juice, please”.

Me:  “Alright!!  That’s better!”  I hand him the juice.

I’ve come to realize that Hayden, just like Emma, understands everything we are saying.  I have to believe this because I don’t have any reason not to now.  The truth has set me free only to wonder and stress and try even harder to pull it out of him.  It feels almost impossible.

Then again, if I’ve learned anything from this whole breakthrough with Emma, it’s that ANYTHING is possible!!

It’s so hard not to panic.  I’m not sure if I’m doing any of this right!  What’s the best method of teaching them?  It seems to be one small step at a time and sometimes those steps go backwards.  I often think about Tito’s mom, Soma – about how she looked for opportunities to teach Tito things based on his interests and utilizing his strengths.  He liked shadows, so she helped him to write by tracing shadows on the concrete.  She took tiny steps day after day until a skill was learned.  It seems overwhelming when I step back and think of all that is before my children and all that they must overcome.  I don’t have all the answers, but I have a few.

Will they get there?  –

Will I be a good enough teacher?  –

Will everything be okay? –

Will I ever give up?  No

Will they ever give up?  No

I love how Hayden gives himself the “Yay” at the end.

January 23, 2011 / paperkids

The road that is no more


I’ll never forget the first day we drove out to our house in the country.  I was about 8 years old and the move didn’t have me nearly as rattled as mom.  I didn’t care that much about our house in the suburbs and didn’t really miss the kids in the neighborhood or even being so close to the beach as we had been.  I remember sitting in the back of a pickup with my brother.  It’s funny how that was not a big deal back then.  The dirt roads were mostly shale and there was even a narrow strip of grass growing right down the middle of them.  It seems like we were on that road forever before finally pulling onto the longest driveway I’d ever seen with a small brown house resting at the end of it.  When we hopped out of the back, the grass was so tall, it felt like we were wading through it.   It was the strangest feeling – the smells and the tiny gnats and seeds blustering away.  Dad took the machete and began to hack away at the growth behind the house, while mom looked utterly horrified at the condition of the inside of the house, what with the horrifying kitchen and green shaggy carpets.  It needed  a LOT of tender loving care and she hadn’t really got around to loving it much yet.  Then I could hear dad’s voice, still gruff, but going up with a hint of something else.

“There’s a barn back here!!”

Could it really be that the grass and weeds were so tall that there was a whole barn back there and we didn’t even know it!!?

So this is how the great adventure of exciting childhood exploration came about.   So many old relics to find tucked away in the old barn.  And so many unexplored places out in the woods.

I have been thinking a lot about my childhood lately.   I think it’s probably because Emma is about the same age that I was when I was completely submersed in my imaginary world with the backdrop of our new neighborhood – Hidden Acres. (no joke, that was, and is, the name)

At the age of nine, I would slip off into the woods for hours.  Dad had carved out pathways through the rough palmettos and we would explore all throughout our property and into other territories as well.  Down the dirt road there was a grassy path we could cut through to the small local creek.  The water was dark red I was told from the cypress trees.  Sometimes that small path would have berries growing  and we would stop to eat them.  In the back of our property a little stream of water flowed.  But to me it was like a raging river and I would set up my little people on big sturdy leaves that would ride down the rapids and into the dark, waxy ferns and unknown wooded wilderness.

I was Gayle Gulley.   That was who I was everyday after school.  For hours the narrow dirt roads would be my portals into other worlds and a small clearing would be my home.  I could have  friends and adventures and get older.  All in one day!

“Who are you talking to out there, Sabra?”

My dad’s voice would boom and echo across the open pasture to the place where I circled, talking away to my “friends”.  I would momentarily be yanked away from saving the day.  He wasn’t really curious or worried.   Just checking in…maybe teasing a little.  But my parents NEVER tried to change this behavior even when I continued to do it much later than any “normal” child ever thought to.  Maybe some would have called it inappropriate even, but mom and dad never seemed to care about that kind of thing.

my brother and I in the old barn

So many adventures tucked away somewhere in my mind.  I don’t think I could remember them if I tried.  That dirt road has since been paved over and that stream in the back has dried up.  The paths of those woods have grown over.  I don’t remember when that world began to slip away, but one day it was just gone.  Replaced with other explorations of adolescents and the world of  long phone calls and boyfriends.   A childhood imagination seems to die out like a flame that at one time burns so bright it calls forth all that could be possibly be magical in the world.  I wish I could visit those places again.


Emma in the pasture where I used to play, my parents house in the background







January 8, 2011 / paperkids

The Golden Hat

I have not been able to stop thinking about The Golden Hat Foundation.  I feel bad admitting this, but I haven’t really supported too many autism fundraisers or organizations in the past.  I think when you’re so deeply involved with raising children with autism, you can only focus on so many other things.  And for me, that’s been the kids – and more recently blogging.  I have many friends that do give up so much of their time to organizations and I respect them so much – how do they do it??!  I’ve never been one of those moms that took on the world – as I’ve said before, I may be one of the most unorganized and scattered people you’d ever meet!  Just ask my husband and friends…and even my mom would tell you.   I don’t make the autism walks or conventions and, until recently, hadn’t really kept up with the current autism research.  Luckily, I have good friends that fill me on the current news.

So that’s why this story about the Golden Hat Foundation really touched me deeply.  I can understand someone who has personally been affected by autism being impacted enough to raise money and awareness.  But the woman behind this great foundation did not have a child with autism.  She wasn’t a caregiver, therapist, teacher or any other such professional associated with autism.

She is a mother.  And she also happens to be an Academy Award winning actress.  Her name is Kate Winslet and I’m sure you’ve heard of her.  Having narrarrated the documentary A Mother’s Courage,  about the mother of an Icelandic boy with autism who searches the world for answers to help her son, Kate Winslet was moved by one simple thing: love.

Kate describes her motivation to get involved:

After watching  A Mother’s Courage: Talking Back to Autism with my daughter, she turned to me and asked, “What if I wasn’t able to talk to you mummy?” As I thought about what that meant, for a mother not to be able to talk with her own child, I realized that I had to lend my voice to raise awareness of this rapidly increasing disorder.    As a mother of two, I thought, how could I not help tell this story of a mother’s journey to discover her son; a film full of courage and a determination to try to change the world for children with autism.   I am incredibly proud to be involved on this journey to help give people with autism a voice.

I thought it was really incredible that a mother would be so moved by another mother’s deepest desire because it was one that all mothers and fathers alike can share in.  And I think what I love most is the simplification of the ultimate goal of this project, which is to help these individuals realize their dreams through communication, education and support.

The Golden Hat Foundation was named so after a poem written by Keli, the Icelandic boy at the center of the documentary.  I have yet to see this film, but watching the trailer, I couldn’t help, but smile at all the familiar faces I saw – Tito, Temple, Dov, and Soma – all people who inspired me and kept my hope alive.  They are my heroes!  I really like this excerpt taken from their website under Our Passion as it says a lot of what I hold to be true and important…

We at the Golden Hat Foundation believe that:

  • Despite the lack of speech and odd behaviors in people with autism, we should assume intelligence first and then find ways to access it.  People with autism are different, but they have unique strengths, perceptions, and talents that deserve recognition and respect.
  • People with autism should be given the means to learn to communicate.
  • People with autism should have access to an appropriate academic education, social supports and job training based on their abilities.

With your support, we can change the world for people with autism. It is their time to GLOW.

I couldn’t have said it better myself!

Here is that beautiful poem from which Kate named her foundation.  Kelli has found his voice and it’s my sincere desire that all children and adults like he and Emma  find theirs and realize their dreams.

The Golden Hat
This boy had a golden hat.
The hat was Magical.  It could talk.
The boy did not have any voice.  He had autism.
His hat was always with him.
His hat was lost one day.
Now he had no way of telling them his stories.
His mom and dad became sad.
They taught him spelling on a letterboard.
It was hard.
– Kelli
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