Sunday, June 26, 2011

A New Kind of Social Butterfly

Basking in the cool breeze after a hazy-hot summer day in Kansas, the laser-yellow sun morphs into a freefalling, pink, fireball. Half the sky is blue while the other glows purple and orange.  I love this time of day; this is when you'll find us at the park.  

....Quietly I watch my daughter. She is tumbling about the jungle gym when Ben, a rather boisterous boy, gruffly assigns her the duty of being the Co-Captain of his ship. Ashi suspiciously, but happily, accepts his bossy invitation to play. 

Ben assigning Ashi to the steering wheel
Ben tells her to 'steer' the jungle gym, er, the very large, sea-going vessel, across the ocean (of gravel.)  Ashi grabs the "steering wheel", peers over the top, and yells (softly) "ahoy, me hearties!"  Ben is unaware that Ashi has been watching episodes of The Wiggles to keep her baby brother, Izaiah, happy.

Surrounding the 'ship' are islands and enemy vessels.  The other 'mates' aboard the 'ship' 
are commanded by the shouting, finger pointing, Captain Ben, "abandon ship! Everyone off! Hurry! Get more bombs!"  Ashi does not disembark as she is ordered, but thankfully, Captain Ben seems to be okay with that.

Several four- footed mateys scurry off the ship and frantically gather bombs (pinecones.)  They pack as many as their little hands, arms, and shirts can carry and then race back with their ammunition. This wild pack of rough and tumble pirates, Brian, Jaden, Iyana, Jessica, Maura, and Joshua then bucket brigade the bombs to Co-Captain, Ashi, who musters up an, "arrrrgg" as she quickly disposes of the dirty, pokey items into the hands of Captain Ben. 

Ashi (in white) handing over the 'bombs'
Ben hurls the the bombs from atop the mast, making booming,explosive noises as each one lands, destroying all of the encroaching villains.  I, an innocent bystander, even have to dodge the 'bombs' myself!  The crew defends their ship until all the one-eyed crooks are annihilated and the world is safe once again.

Then the sun is swallowed whole, the ship dissolves into the night, and the green and yellow jungle gym shimmers back into view.  The ocean dries up too so we pour the rocks out of our shoes and laugh all the way home.
Ashi and a new found friend

All of this playtime has certainly made me think about how much Ashi has changed.  She's made huge progress academically, and in her behavior and communication and all her motor skills, but when I was asked to write about something our autist had achieved lately, it occured to me what great strides Ashi has made in the social arena too.

For most years, our days in the park were never like the one described above. No, ours were long, sunscorching days of endless self-stimming with rocks.  Having a myriad of sensory issues, it was out of necessity that Ashi wasn't social at the park or anywhere.  We've always respected that about her and while we always had the door open for socializing, we never forced it on her. Letting it come about naturally and at her own pace has been the very best for her.  She began to blossom about the age of six.

Now, at seven and a half, she has really branched out. Today, she seeks out friends, strikes up conversation, engages in play, takes on roles in pretend play, and even tolerates other children's behaviors, which would have been difficult before. I would call this an enormous achievement.  My sweet, little, autist has been slowly emerging as the beautiful butterfly she's always been to me, but now for the world to see.  Will she play like this tomorrow?  Maybe, maybe not, but she is always flying forward; flittering here and there, but always flying flying forward. 

Ashi with her laptop
Annie Eskeldson was told her autist would never read, write, speak, or fit in.  Today, Ashi is an A student in the 2nd grade. Annie writes for parents of very young autists.  She has provided all of Ashi's therapy and homeschooling and has 2 published children's books about autism that also nurture the parent.  They can be found at   She also writes great tips and ideas for parents at


  1. BarbaraHutch Added: 27 Jun, 2011 3:45 pm

    "But she is always flying forward." Love it. You're a terrific writer, Annie. Keep it up, enjoy reading your blogs. delete

    sschell73 Added: 27 Jun, 2011 9:19 am

    It is true that child with ASD can form relationships and attachments, but in a different way.

  2. noelbella Added: 29 Jun, 2011 2:32 pm

    I think most importantly it's so wonderful that she could freely play with others, such as Ben. It's so wonderful when our children are social with others and able to have a good time with no problems whatsoever. delete

    Patsy Added: 28 Jun, 2011 3:19 pm

    Pictures are great. She is a cutie-pie !

  3. Claire_radley Added: 05 Jul, 2011 4:36 pm

    Wonderful blog. Great pictures. Keep it up, Annie! delete

    PChallab Added: 05 Jul, 2011 12:33 pm

    Your posts give us parents hope . Thanks for being here :-) delete

  4. MissSarah Added: 08 Jul, 2011 3:26 pm

    Wish I had such a fun childhood! She looks so happy, Anne! delete

    MysonJACKSON Added: 07 Jul, 2011 1:19 pm

    Not only academically, but more importantly socially she excelled...

    That is so wonderful... delete

    daiel_boyd Added: 06 Jul, 2011 3:30 pm

    "Ahoy!" Great for Ashi! So wonderful she could be social and have a wonderful time :-) delete


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