Hey! I have been invited to take part in a blog meme by Lisa at Autism Wonderland called The Little Things are a Big Deal. I thought this post might be a good place for me to launch!!! So enjoy these little blessings and check out the other fine writers telling their big-deal stories!
I am in a pretty good place right now.
I am tired... nearly exhausted... but in a very good place. J-man's autism doesn't bother me like it once did. I don't feel quite so lost. I don't feel quite so scared. Or lonely. I feel at peace with J-man, and therefore... by proxy... at peace with autism.
Not that we don't have struggles, cause we do. Not that I don't get frustrated. Cause I do. But most of my frustration is about how hard J-man has to work to communicate and make his way. And this boy works hard, my friends. I am constantly amazed at what these ASD kids do every day, dealing with a neurology that challenges them at every turn. And yet still they grow. Little by little, inch by painstaking inch, they grow. When you see it... when you hear the small triumphs that these kids achieve and know the efforts and barriers they go thru to get there... I mean, come on!!! How can you not be full-on inspired!!
I used to compare J-man to other neurotypical kids his age. There came a point when I sorta noticed that I stopped. I am not sure why. Maybe the gulf was so wide that there was no point. Or maybe it was because I refocused on comparing J-man to J-man. What have been his developmental steps? How has he changed from where he was to where he is? What is better, or even just different? What are the 'green flags' he is flying, and how can we build on those? I live in that place, most days. It is a good place to live.
Today, while I was in my bedroom getting dressed, I heard J-man on the monitor in his room. He had his new book, There's A Mouse in the House, on his bed and he was reading it. Word for mother-loving word. As I was listening to him in his broken speech, I realized that indeed, he was reciting the story nearly perfectly. I peeked around the corner into his room and there he was, using his finger to follow each word. Was he actually 'reading' it? Or had he just memorized the story? I am not sure I care, to be honest. He was 'reading'. I was so excited that I fetched the videocamera and tried to get him to read it again. Alas, it was not to be... but that was ok. Instead, I got this little snippet of video that is classic J-man.
What you need to know about this video is this: I believe that he is telling me about watching Netflix and Power Rangers. He is telling me a story about that. I think he might also be telling me that after watching Power Rangers we are going to Target. Then I try and push the story thing (stupid adult agenda!)... but not too hard I hope. He tells me he loves books. And that he wants a different one. And that he wants to go to Target.
What you will notice is that there are times... many times... that it doesn't seem like he is really saying anything. And maybe he isn't. Maybe he is making noise to fill in for words that he knows should be there. But I think... my gut tells me... that in his head those words ARE there, but his mouth cannot get them out. So I treat all of his speech as intentional and deliberate. He is communicating with me. He is telling me something. Even when he doesn't speak, he is communicating with intention. I guess I believe all ASD people are. We just need to be smart enough to bridge the gap to meet them halfway.