This week when I picked Bob up at the clinic I have run into a little fellow, well not so little, who is nonverbal. His momma is young and really small but she handles him with ease. He is very active. For three days this week he has come over to me and rubbed my face and looked deeply into my eyes. Friday he even jumped in my lap, legs dangling and I held him and talked to him about his chewelry. His momma tried to block him, but he was coming anyway and I welcomed it. My heart was full of love and pride for this young boy. He was making a connection! And isn’t that what it is all about, making connections with others? Bob came into the waiting room, looked at the boy in my lap and said, “Hi, I Bob! Once again I was filled with love and pride. Because instead of Bob whining about my attention focused on another child, he engaged. Two years ago I would have acknowledged, let’s call him Parker, but not looked into his eyes or watched his mannerisms for any form of communication. But two years ago was a different life for my family.
As much as others outside of this community wonder what to say or do with our kids, does anyone within the inner circle feel the same way? I know that I do. But in this instance, I went with my gut! I treated him the same way that I want others to treat my Bob. I want people to treat him like he is there and that he matters and to not dismiss him. Just because he can’t answer your questions or give you that eye contact like others his age, he matters! He is here and present in every moment of this life.
I asked two other Asd non verbal parents what would they like others to know about their children. In other words, how to interact or respond to them and here are their answers.
Renee Oliver said, “What I think people need to understand about those who aren’t able to say much is that doesn’t mean they don’t have anything to say and some kids (my son in particular) still enjoys being greeted and asked questions as if an answer was expected. My son beams when people he knows and likes stop to talk to him and treat him as he’s just like everyone else. I wish everyone would do that but most don’t and I think that some people think they’re wasting their time trying to engage a kid who doesn’t have but a few words he can use but they’re really not, especially if the child likes that kind of treatment. If they don’t then that’s a different story, of course.”
Jenny Moe said, “I feel like people have a harder time with the unclear social interaction than not talking- it’s just that the not talking makes everything even less clear. It’s not like she is deaf; people can wrap their minds around that and know just how to act. But the unknown makes people nervous. They avoid her because they don’t know how to interact with her. If she is affectionate but then suddenly walks away and zones out, they think they did something wrong. But the truth is, you can’t really screw up. Throw all your social ideas out the window, because she doesn’t understand that language. That sounds confusing, but really she is quite simple. If she wants to sit on your lap or hold your hand, you really don’t need to do more than let her, and be kind to her. So the biggest thing I wish people understood was that she isn’t all that complicated, and don’t be afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing. People are always nervous around her. Don’t be nervous, just go with it.”
Profound words from parents that are living with their own struggle. I will leave you with a happy note or thought. Today, I went to the clinic and “Parker” was there he engaged me again by rubbing my face and then rubbing my leg. Now mind you, I had shorts on and had not shaved above the knee. He stopped and looked at my leg and went over to his father, a clean cut, shaven head Air Force soldier. He pulled his Daddy’s head down and rubbed his stubble. He came back to me and rubbed my leg again and smiled. Did he make one hell of a connection? Yes he did! Stubble is stubble! And people are people no matter what our battles!
Love and hugs dolls,