Saturday, April 30, 2011

I Just Wanna Be OK...

I still hold my breath when issuing an imperative.

"Son," I said tonight, "go put your pajamas on, now." {wince}

You could feel my held breath during the beat. I do not ever take it for granted when he sweetly replies, like he did tonight, "OK."

I still get my share of resistance to things. What mom doesn't?! But it is a gift, a treasure, a milestone, a minor miracle, when my son, after practicing the word for more than THREE YEARS, responds to a direction by saying, "OK."

I turn away so I can enjoy a private smile. Yes, those two little letters mean a lot to me. But more than that? It's what he doesn't say. Those other two letters. Well, actually, if anyone could spell "NO" with more than two letters, my son could. Still can. But now it's almost rare to get, "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" I do not miss those days one bit.

If you are a parent or teacher or loved one of a child who has autism and "no" is the biggest part of their limited vocabulary, please do not give up hope. Please know that I almost did, and I would have been wrong if I'd accepted that a tirading, toy throwing, temper tantrum-ing single world vocabulary was the extent of my son's future interactions.

We have practiced the word, "OK" with him, modeled it for him, rehearsed, begged, reminded, scripted, and bribed it out of him. We had ABA for every single week day for two years. We have books about it. We praise the daylights out of it. Not because we want our son to be something he isn't, not because we don't love and adore and accept him, not because we wanted to spend our time with him issuing commands and forcing compliance, but because he always seemed so furious in his world of endless NOs. He seemed to say no to ease, to peace, to comfort, to being. He has come so far, through sensory work, through OT and PT and school and "helpers" and... love. He is still a fighter in the best sense of the word, but he has put down his gloves a bit, and he has made some room for ease, peace, comfort, being.

Today he watched Lilo and Stitch, and he started laughing his heart out. Our friend Decy said, "He sounds so happy." I felt my eyes widen. To hear that said about MY boy! My boy?! I confess, I pretended I hadn't completely heard her. I said, "What did you say?" I wanted more. She said it again. "He sounds so happy." This is not a sudden thing. Our Rooster has been gradually doing better, emotionally, step by tiny step, but it still thrills me to hear anything so radically different from back when I started writing this blog in 2008. My. Boy. Sounds. So. Happy.

If you can't imagine hearing that about your child, hang in there. I am rooting for you both. Be patient. Do what you think is best. Love. Take whatever tiny baby steps make your family feel comfortable. Or whatever giant steps. Just don't give up hope. OK? OK.


PBear said...

so glad to hear this! we seem to be on a giant slide backwards, mine is so angry all the time again - I fear the hormones are upon us....

Kim said...

Wow did I need to read this tonight!

kim mccafferty said...

Thrilled for you, and it was a long time coming for us as well!