Four Words That Shocked Me From Madison

Four Words That Shocked Me From Madison

It happened again. For the second week in a row, my inspiration comes from Madison, my daughter with autism, and the four surprising words she said to me during our visit last week.

It was a practice run. In the 27 years that I’ve parented Madison, I’ve learned that it’s important to anticipate and structure as much of her life as possible. So I asked the good folks who care for Madison in her day program if we could schedule a practice lunch with her before inviting guests to join us at a later date. Since Madison loves pizza, we chose Pizza Hut, a restaurant we haven’t visited together in years.

We met at the appointed time. I didn’t want to be late because Madison, like many individuals with autism, can have difficulty waiting. In the past, waiting too long could spark a tantrum or behavior that would include hitting herself, throwing herself on the floor, or banging her hands on the table while yelling in loud high-pitched voice.

But that day, she sat quietly with her one-on-one assistant. We ordered pizza and I gave Madison a late birthday present. While we waited, I asked her to name the colors of the gift bag and the color of her new shoes (gold sparkle, of course),

and then showed her the sneak-peek video that I shared with you last week.

She was calm, compliant, and engaged in every activity. When the pizza came, she waited for it to cool, as instructed, before taking her first bite.

When there was only one piece left, she grabbed her plate, gave it to me, and mumbled something I couldn’t understand.

“What’s she saying?” I asked her assistant. “Does she want the last piece?”

“No, not another piece. She’s saying, ‘I want breadsticks, please.’”

“What? She said that? No way!”

“Yes, that’s what she said.”

Apparently, Madison was a frequent visitor to Pizza Hut and had developed a new favorite.

Still, I couldn’t believe it. I want breadsticks, please. Really? I was stunned.

Not only did I learn of a new food she now loves, from a kid who has always been hesitant to try new things, she also let me know what she wanted. Madison had uttered four words. Unprompted! She chose to speak. I was blown away.


Madison’s speech is limited and difficult for her. When she was younger, you could almost see the hard work in her eyes as her mind searched for words. She spoke at age five, but only after months of a specialized therapy with flashcard-like drills that repeated the same questions until she memorized the answers.

There was great joy in our household when she finally understood the meaning of the phrase “I want” and could use it to answer that important question, “What do you want?”

But to ask for breadsticks, a new food, spontaneously, with no prompting at all? I was overjoyed at her progress–so unexpected, so encouraging.

Who knew four words could hold so much promise for my sweet Madison? Go Madison! Next time, yes, there will be breadsticks in our order. You can count on it!

If it’s April, it’s Autism Awareness Month. Thanks for letting me share a bit about my journey with Madison. Oh, and as promised, below is the final version of Madison’s “I am 1 in 50” video along with the opportunity to honor her with a contribution to Pathfinders for Autism. Thanks for those who have already contributed!

Do you know someone with autism? Have they shocked you with their unexpected progress? Tell me about it. I’d love to know.

My best – always,

Becky  (Nana B)

Madison's 1 in 50 Final Video

Madison's Donation and Banner

P.S. Curious as to how your contribution to Pathfinder for Autism will be used? Check it out:

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