Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The best things come...

In this blog entry I described moments in my life as a parent to a special-needs child. I got a lot of feedback from the entry so I wanted to share a related moment that was immensely fulfilling. I share this on World Autism Awareness Day in honor of my sweet boy.

I admit it. I'm one of those moms that uses the canned "mmmhmmms" and the "that's great, sweetheart"s when my kids are chattering away and I'm not quite there. It doesn't mean I don't love them, of course. It just means that I've got a lot on my mind. We've all been there.

And we've all been kids at one point, too. So we can't blame our own children when they use the same time-honored techniques to grab attention from the Distracted Parent.

"Mom. Mom. MOM. MOM. MOM!!!

My five-year-old autistic son employs these techniques as well. He learns well from observation and imitation. For example, I got him to say, "I love you" when he was about three years old. It was simply an imitation of my speech. But it was the last time I heard it from him.

He soon took a downward turn and was subsequently diagnosed with autism. It was crushing. But he continued to observe and imitate, including raising his voice to get my attention. He also formed his own technique that is more effective than any other.

I can always tell when his synapses are on overdrive because his voice changes. It's not a loud change or an obnoxious change. It's a quiet change. A breathy, mumbly, I'm-making-progress-so-listen-carefully change. His voice takes on a peculiar energy and excitement that my husband and I delight in.

He will breathlessly recount an event in great detail or describe how he is going to construct an invention (most frequently a rocket pack for his back, just like Buzz Lightyear.) This little voice grabs my attention better than any yell for Mom.

Recently we were sitting on the floor in our living room. I was tickling my youngest son and making lots of noise in the process. My autistic son sat a few feet away, staring intently at the floor. I wished I could get inside that head and hear what was going on. Whatever it was, it was all-consuming.

Amidst the squeals and giggles I heard his breathy, quiet voice. He said a few things that I didn't catch, then he looked straight at me.

"I love you, mom." Then he smiled.

I froze. His voice couldn't have been softer but I certainly heard it. It cut me to the soul and took my breath away. I left my youngest child on the carpet, momentarily forgotten. Crawling across the floor, I folded him into my arms. I couldn't hold him tightly enough.

He giggled as I squeezed him and choked back my tears. I had waited so long for this: a moment that was unprompted, un-canned, un-imitated. The fact that I had waited over two years for it made the moment all the sweeter.


Allie said...

That was such a sweet post! You do such a wonderful job with your boys. I am glad that your boys agree.

Jodi said...

I love reading your blog, Lauren. You are such a great writer and such a great Mom (among other things). Such a sweet entry! I know I do a lot of the canned "mmmhmmm's" like you, but I hope i do enough of the folding children in my arms like you too!

aniC said...

ohmyword. stop making me cry.
thanks for sharing that. and everything else that you share.

Tracie said...

Crying here. I love you too!

Tracie said...

Just finished listening to audio autobiography, "Three Weeks with My Brother" by Nicholas Sparks. I've never read any of his books but have seen two of his books made into movies. This is a nice "fluff" read but the part about his autistic son had me thinking about you a lot. Great portrayal of what a parent goes through and I just wanted to give you a huge hug and "day off/out." Love you!