“Baseball team!” my son yelled. “You need to get down here RIGHT NOW!” He looked up into the tree at his imaginary team. “You’re late for the game! COME DOWN NOW!”
I almost fell off the bench.
Why? Because it wasn’t Meatball, my three year old Drama King, who was yelling. It was Dr. J. My serious, you-can’t-pretend-that, Aspie Dr. J. was looking up into a tree and yelling at a pretend baseball team! I was in shock.
There’s a story in Wit & Wisdom from the Parents of Special Needs Kids that talks about the first two years of autism being the hardest. I think there’s something to that. Yes, I know adolescence is probably going to send me reeling, but until then, I think the first two years are indeed the hardest. You’re trying to figure out what in the world is going on with your child. Are you crazy? Is (s)he crazy? Maybe everyone else is crazy.
During the first two years you’re desperately searching for the right treatment or therapy that will get you a moment’s peace and a bit of progress. You hide in the bathroom wishing your child would stop flailing on the floor. You cry hourly as she unknowingly destroy things. You just want your son to let you hug him.
And then you start to find the things that make a difference. ABA therapy, dietary intervention, speech therapy, social skills practice, or whatever else is the key to connecting to your child’s brain. Slowly your child accepts a new food. (Happy dance!) What was that? He looked at you and used a full sentence! (WOOHOO!) One day your child smiles at you unprompted. (I think I hear angels singing!)
And in the midst of this slow progress, as the days turn into weeks and slip into months, you don’t realize where you are. The reduction of tantrums over time allows breath again. Your family falls into a new rhythm. Life isn’t perfect, but it’s greatly improved.
The little things have added up to a big difference. But sometimes you forget. Progress is still progress. A new food is still a reason to rejoice, even though your child’s diet is So Much More Diverse now. Conversation with a stranger is still a minor miracle. An umprompted, “I love you, too.” is still a sweet victory to be savored.
So please excuse me a minute as I revel in my son’s imagination. Yes, the other day he fell apart because his brother pretended orange construction cones were acorns. Yes, we have a long way to go.
But for those few moments, he was yelling at someone who wasn’t there, and what he was saying was not from a movie! That may seem like a little thing, but it’s still a big victory at our house.
Why not take a moment to share your own “little thing.”