Monday, January 14, 2013

Did you have a good break?

Over the break, every morning, Ryan would say, "No school."

Every time, I'd reply "No baby, school is on break."

Then it gradually became, "School is on a break" to which I'd agree, and that seemed to make him happy.

But as school approached, he began asking and we began having to remind him that in so many days he'd have to return to school.  Usually it was "NO school!!!"

Over the break, some magic happened.  Yes, we had some hard days.  It got loud and awkward a lot.  He didn't know what to do with himself, and sadly, I must admit that there were times we didn't know what to do with him.  He seems to want what he wants NOW, and that isn't going to work.  For one thing, we learned a long time ago that giving him what he is demanding does not stop the noise.  It just perpetuates it.  For another, there are five other people in this house most of the time, and their wants and needs are just as important as Ryan's.  After all, the intricacies of unstated social contracts are at the center of what confuses Ryan so.  If we are to attempt to remove all these, such as taking turns, being nice, and not using your brother as a horse (yes, this happens), then where is he to learn?

Since we are big believers in immersion as the best therapy, we have to do our best to implement what we expect across the board.  School, church, home, the grocery store, wherever we go we must help him learn at every opportunity.

Sound exhausting?  It's only exhausting when we stop and realize what we're doing.  Then we realize how exhausted we are and how much we've uprooted and overturned to make this happen. But that's a whole other blog post.

When Ryan began asking me a couple days ago if I had a good break, I was more than surprised.  I responded with an assurance that of course I had a great break, and even went into asking him if he'd had a good break a couple of times.  I even tried to talk to him about what to say if others ask him that.  He responded only once, and that was just to ask for Gladys Mae and Uncle Eric again.

Obviously, I figured he wasn't listening and didn't worry too much about it.

This morning, after the usual "school is on break" exchange, and having to break it to him that school is back in session and he had to get dressed and go, he asked again if I had a good break.  I responded again, still thinking that maybe he has his pronouns confused again and is actually saying he had a good break.

Happy that he was in a good mood and didn't wrestle through the whole process, I situated him in his seat in the van and reminded him how much I'd miss him, and started talking through his day a bit.  You know, to be good so he can have free time, to mind his teachers, blah blah blah.  The whole mommy schtick with an autism twist.  I bet he asked me three times in the short drive to school if I had a good break.  Hmm.  Not his usual stimmy question, but maybe we're branching out a bit.

Then it happened.  We pulled up, the aid opened the door, and it happened.

It took about two seconds.  She opened the door, Ryan turned, looking her full in the face, and bubbled over proudly, "Did you have a good break?"

Her mouth dropped.  So did mine.


Then, in an instant (and I don't know why I didn't think of this before), I decided to sign "I love you" to Ryan as I said it.  My great aunt Gladys Mae taught him this years ago, and I thought this might be a good way to start saying goodbye.  He's responded to it before, but this morning, as he formed his fingers, watching them intently, then looked back up at me, saying, "I love you", there was a warmth in his eyes.

Maybe it's been there before.  Maybe it's been there all along and I've been too busy or too worried to see it.  But the autism-formed shell is cracking.  Light is beaming through.  More and more every day, we see Ryan.  We see his personality, his sense of humor, his heart.


And how was your break? 


  1. Oh man, I've got tears in my eyes. What a great moment for you and his aid!

  2. This is truly awesome! Tears in my eyes, as well...


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