One of the current goals I am working on with my son is expanding his expressive language. It basically involves using a variety of different prompts to let him know he needs to give me more language. It started with a verbal prompt, then just a gesture, we then faded the prompt to a facial expression that says ‘you need to expand on that sentence buddy!’ Yes, believe it or not, there is a face for that! Now it’s just ‘wait’ time. If I pause then he knows he needs to stretch out that sentence before I will respond.
It’s been going really well and it’s actually pretty adorable and thrilling to hear him expand on his thoughts out loud.
So the other day Kiddo and I went for a drive to run some errands and we were passing through some beautiful countryside, feeling happy and just enjoying the sunshine. Kiddo was looking relaxed and staring out of the car window when he made this comment out of nowhere:
I immediately jumped in with an enthusiastic ‘Kiddo !! Your ARE nice!!!’
Kiddo then repeated himself very slowly: ‘Ummm.. I’m nice ….I’m nice … Ummm… ‘. I knew immediately I had interrupted his train of thought. The wheels were still turning. He does this at times. Repeats something and I can tell he is still searching. Searching for the words, a way to construct the words into a sentence, and a way to match the thoughts in his head to the words that come out of his mouth. It’s labor intensive for him.
So I zipped my lip and waited.
Kiddo: ‘I’m nice to SOME people.’
A long pause from him then slowly… ‘But I am not nice to some other people.’ I waited again. I could just tell he wasn’t finished. Long pause from him again. He was looking out the window then he turned his head toward me and said ‘I need to be nice to the autism.’ My chest tightened up and I felt the tears sting my eyes.
Kiddo continued oblivious to me trying to keep it together next to him.
‘I need to be nice to my autism.’
Then he turned away and looked out the car window again… lost in his thoughts. He was finished. The conversation was over.
I said quietly: ‘Yes buddy … I know… It’s so true …’
My boy has not talked too much about autism of late since we explained his diagnosis to him a few months ago. This talk in the car was an exception. It was just the tiniest of glimpses for me into my own child’s personal journey towards self acceptance. No mean feat given the many roadblocks he faces on a daily basis.
What a privilege it was that I got to be there, sitting beside him, the one to witness such a moment.
Be nice to the autism. My autism.
I hear you Kiddo. I hear you.