There are a lot of things that autism means in our house. Things like this:
If you want to find Joseph, and he is in this house, day or night, there’s about a 70% chance you will find him like this.
Here’s another thing that it means:
I put this scripture on my wall a few years ago in an attempt to submerge us in God’s word. I still like putting scripture on the wall, but our graphic style has evolved since this first “piece” that we ordered from an online source that makes custom wall letters. It really doesn’t fit the rhyme scheme any more but I can’t bring myself to take it down and replace it.
See the lowercase t’s? That was Joseph’s idea of a joke back when he was about 10. He turned the t in “their” upside down and when Chelanne finally noticed it, he laughed his head off. I walked in a few days later to find him turning the last of the t’s upside down. I pretended not to see him and he spent the next 15 minutes sitting on the couch trying to stifle his giggles. He failed miserably when I and, later, his stepfather walked in and wondered “what on earth???” It’s one of my favorite memories. He cracked so few jokes back then, showed so little effort to affect the world around him, sometimes went days without interacting with anyone in a way that showed that he paid any attention to the world around him beyond his iPad. Those are the memories you cling to when your boy doesn’t hold conversations or ask questions or understand time, and spends most of his time watching youtube videos.
And today, I got another one of those. I went to BSF this morning and got home about 720 a.m. Before I went to take my oldest to school, I had this conversation with Joseph:
“I’m going to the grocery store, would you like to go?”
“Would you like something from the store?”
“A soda?” Nod in agreement, finger in the corner of his mouth.
“Would you like anything else?”
“Candy bar?” Head shake, negative.
“Donuts?” Nod in agreement.
All par for the course. I go to the restroom, get my shoes on. As I stand up from putting my shoes on, Joseph starts to walk toward me, stops, puts his finger on his chin and says these words, magic words:
“Wait. I changed– Can I go?”
Can I go. This is the boy who has asked not millions, nor thousands, but mere hundreds of questions in his 12 years, though he has been able to speak in sentences since he was about 4 1/2 or 5. They are a mode of communication that he just doesn’t get, neither asking nor answering most of the time. I don’t really know why. I think that many questioning words are just abstract concepts and he can’t wrap his head around what they mean. When you really think about it, what does “when” actually mean? How can you explain that in absolutely concrete terms, terms that a person can see and touch, understanding that time is NOT a concrete concept. How about “how”? Or “what”? And to have him use, or attempt to use, a phrase like “I changed my mind” to preface it?
In this house, Joseph’s autism means that I have never heard this before and I don’t know when I will again though I will hold out hope that this is an indication of progress made.
My autism means that that hope has me so overwhelmed with emotion that this blog post has taken me 2 1/2 hours to write because I can’t stop crying for joy. I’m, literally, so happy it’s painful.
Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people; praise his holy name.
For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.