Tonight has been a night like most other nights…ipad, changing the video/DVD (yes we still have a VHS player and blues clues videos he discovered after Netflix dropped it), shimmy, jumpy, tipping the trampoline, being dragged around the house…just another night in the house where autism lives. However, as the movie ended, and I told E that we were all done because it was almost time for bed, and to watch something on his ipad…he stopped in his tracks. Now I’ve raised, and helped raise, a lot of kids and foster kids, so I’m pretty impervious to screaming, crying, whining, pouting, and meltdowns…but what he did next almost made me cry. He stopped, and his face froze, and he stared a moment, then in almost slow motion i watched his face just crumple, and his lip quiver as if he was trying to hold it in…and then the dam broke. It was almost like a movie scene where the kid finds out his favorite ____ just died…but not at all manufactured, he was devastated. I’m still trying to remember if I’ve ever seen that set of emotion in him before.
I picked him up and held him a few minutes…and then set about 3more songs to play on the DVD. Maybe I shouldn’t have given in, but it was a moment you’d just have to be there, and KNOW E, and understand that even though you don’t understand why…at that moment, a few more songs was very, very important.
So after it was over…time for bed…he was still upset, still cried, but not to the same degree. Something was different with him in the bedtime routine as well, he’d calm for a minute then cry again. So I started to rub his leg…as I read the story, sang our songs…and anytime I stopped he’d put my hand back showing me to keep on. Normally its routine, then lights off, then he goes to sleep on his own…but tonight…something is wrong…I don’t know what, maybe never will, but it is…so I stay, and lay next to him, and let him know mommys here, and he’s safe. I stay until he falls asleep. Hardly any words are spoken by me, none by him. I wish he could tell me what was wrong…but I try to listen…to his stims, to his mood, to his activity level, to anything and everything I can. He is never speaking, but he is always communicating….I’m sure i miss more than i catch…but I am always trying to listen.
I have heard autistic people stress over and over that ALL behavior…good and bad…is communication-especially for non-verbal people. Many people don’t even try to listen…they see the behavior, not the person reaching out….trying to make their “voice” heard, and becoming more and more frustrated at not being understood in their attempts.
Tonight he was just a kid that for whatever reason needed his mommy, and I took the time to realize that and respond.
Hardly any words were spoken…but there was communication.