Not long ago, we had a plumbing and heating repairman in our home. I’m sure he sees all types of things in houses, but it’s possible ours presented something new: a little paparazzi kid, peeking around corners, and recording the work in progress on his tablet, to be exact.
Not only does my oldest on The Spectrum enjoy looking at photos, he loves taking them. And videos too.
He takes photos of things he likes. When we go for a drive, I can hear the shutter sound his tablet makes, as he takes photos of the big trucks we pass. When he gets a new toy or brings home a new piece of art from school, he captures that too. He often reviews his digital album of treasures and smiles. He is curating his own gallery of happiness.
He also takes the initiative to teach himself about the world. Whenever something new or different happens in our home, (like a plumber fixing the air conditioner, for example), he is there, tablet in hand. He records what is going on, and studies it afterwards. They are his private tutorials for figuring out this curious world he lives in.
One time, we got a set of patio furniture. Our son recorded Daddy assembling the first piece, then was able to help build the second piece. He knew the steps. He had a training video.
I often see the tablet sitting in the corner, with the red “record” button flashing, when we have friends over to play. In the days and weeks that follow, he will play back the playdate, and actually rehearse the things his friends have said. Next time he sees them, he brings out the same toys and repeats the same phases he has learned. He cares so much about making a connection with others that he is willing to create his own training videos and learn from them! How many of us put that much effort into our friendships at age 8? (Or now, for that matter?)
Don’t ever let anyone tell you that Autistic children aren’t affectionate, sentimental, or able to communicate. It just isn’t so. It just takes finding the right tool to bridge the communication gap. For us, it is a camera. For another child it may be something else.
Special-Needs parents: if you are in thick of it right now; I see you. I know that heartache of not understanding your own child. I know the pain of the million what-ifs. I know you don’t sleep at night. I know how heavy your heart is. Don’t give up.
Try one more thing.
Try just one more thing.
Because one small thing may be the breakthrough you’ve always dreamed of.
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