The Push Away

52 Week Writing Challenge

The giggles, the Cheshire Cat grin and the push away, equals I know what’s coming, but generally I process it too late. Sometimes I feel like Alice in Wonderland as I look at Owen with that grin. What adventure is Owen going to take us on now, I think.

My son is five, I remind myself of this all the time. However, five is only a number. He is delayed and with severe autism there are other things that keep him rooted at a certain point in development. What might take a typical developing child a few tries to learn, it can take Owen months or years. We have been working on counting with his fingers, after months of trying he will now let me maneuver his fingers into position. This is a huge accomplishment.

The words spill out of my mouth so many times I lose track of what I’m saying. Owen sit, Owen don’t stand on that, Owen don’t jump on the bed, so I get, all parents repeat themselves, but this is a constant with Owen. I have to break this all down as I try to figure out how to help him learn, is it because he is five, maybe the delay, or it is Owen. The grin tells me a lot.

The newest thing he wants to do is escape from my grasp when I unbuckle his carseat. It’s the great push away. He will take my arms and as soon as I unbuckle him he jumps out of that seat and down on the floor he goes. He likes to crawl around in the car. He thinks this is funny. The grin now gives him away, but it doesn’t always register in my mind what he is about to do. At five he is as strong as an ox and has the hands of an octopus. I can’t always let him crawl around in the car, sometimes we are on a schedule. Plus, if I let him get away with it one time, he wants to get away with it every time. It would then be part of the routine. It is mind boggling trying to stay one step ahead of him.

How do you teach a child that has no fear or shows no fear for things that can be dangerous, when he doesn’t understand the concept of danger in the first place. Owen is very smart, and very quick, but yet that doesn’t translate for him being able to understand concepts. He can’t always express himself either, his words are still forming. This is were a lot of his frustration comes from. He is learning to ask for things. Sometimes it isn’t necessarily the item he wants, but he only has a few words to explain what he wants or needs. The term “cracker” is used for cereal, veggie straws and chips, not even crackers. I will give him crackers and cheese, but he won’t call them crackers. This is a learning process for both of us.

The connections between words, actions and consequences do not always blend together in acceptance for Owen. Standing on the very edge of the couch arm, screaming the words “VERY QUIET” very loudly and then diving into the middle of the couch is perfectly acceptable to Owen. My blood pressure might be a little higher than normal. The more I show any reaction the more he does it. How do you sit motionless, emotionless and explain danger all at the same time.

I had a small glimmer of hope that he was paying attention to my words when I talked about going to the doctor if he got hurt and then that’s when I realized he may understand part of what I was saying, but the rest was still a mystery for both of us.

He loves watching the video of the monkeys jumping on the bed and he doesn’t care that the doctor says the same thing I do, no more jumping on the bed. The good news is I see the connections, because when we talk about the doctor he immediately brings up the video about the monkeys jumping and puts it right on the part about the doctor. I’m thankful for these connections more than I can even explain. It’s so hard to imagine that I can’t sit my child down, say don’t ever jump off the couch again and that it would actually happen. I have the hope that it will. I have the hope that the connections will get him to the point that he considers his own safety.

I never truly understood how emotional autism would be for me as a parent. I’m in a constant state of heightened energy. Not always good, not always bad, not always nervous or anxious, but yet the emotions are always on this side of crying or screaming or laughing uncontrollably or throwing myself on the floor in a meltdown next to Owen wishes I could take this pain and confusion away from him.

The smile that he shows me is what motivates me, inspires me and makes me know everything will be fine. I look at my little boy, that is growing every day, and I am thankful for how far he has come and the connections he is making. I am hopeful for tomorrow and I am waiting for the next adventure my sweet baby O will take us on.

Autism wasn’t important to me, until autism was important to me.

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