There are moments, and even whole days, when just sitting is all that we do. It usually follows an active day and time is then needed to sit, process and contemplate what we did through the earlier hours.
Our son has times like this, perhaps more than he used to! or have we just become more sensitive to his subtle changes? It doesn’t really matter. We are here alongside him as he works through this ‘quiet time’ at his own pace. Occasionally speaking, or questioning, but for the most part, quiet. Not answering our approaches to him, we know him well enough now to sense his need, even in the silence. At times like this, we have learned to remain quiet ourselves, and just get on with our home based activities and hobbies, reading, processing pictures from earlier photo runs. We find we can’t go into the garden when he is like this and for his own safety, we need to be in the same room in case of a seizure or fall.
Over the years, we have built up a large collection of books, records and CD’s, DVD’s (and Cat’s 🙂 ) and learned to use the internet reasonably well as an alternate to having to go out – just for times like this, when you don’t know until it happens, if you are going to be able to go out or not. Thank heavens for Internet grocery shopping and the reasonably successful way they manage it now.
These times do pass, more quickly now than they used to, and although we encourage and try to bring focus and objective throughout each of these days, we have learned not to push, and gradually his mood changes and he returns to his usual ways.
Our studies have taken us to more reading and discussions with authoritative sources, in the hope we can understand, and anticipate more as aspects of his Autism just seem so intense at the moment. Recently a Mental Health Practitioner asked him, “What makes you happy?” and there was no reply. Absolute silence. We know he is happy and we have real belly laughs from him and a desire to go certain places and meet certain people, and he is happy doing certain things such as his music, but we have to learn how to help focus on those happy times and how to help him recall them as easy as he does those sad and angry memories. Our photography project “My world, through my own eyes” is an attempt to support this by providing a means for him to recall what he did and saw – and even photographed himself. Other collages in his photo album is another way of capturing ‘happy’ moments so we can work on embedding these thoughts in his mind at the expense of the negative ones.
Tomorrow will be another day, probably happier and more interactive. We have plans. These plans are flexible by necessity, but they will add opportunity and experience of something new if we achieve them.
We were once told, that it is trial and error and will continue to be, as Autism is a lifelong challenge that faces us, and our son, but together, we will find that way to make his life as fulfilling as we can.