Friday, November 5, 2010

Bubbles in the Bathtub

For a long time, David was almost completely non-verbal, functionally mute, or whatever other terrible term you might want to use. During that time, I ached to hear his voice. I wondered what it sounded like.

I try to take every opportunity to promote language and to prompt a response and thankfully, his language has begun to develop. For years, I have driven around town, pushed the grocery cart, walked to the park talking—seemingly to myself, trying to encourage David to talk. I am sure that, on some occasions, David has grown tired of hearing me chatter on endlessly because I know I have. And my family has shown great patience as I sometimes forget to turn my babble button off as in "Would you like more potatoes, Michael…yes or no?"

Recently, David has begun to utter multiple word phrases, without prompting, totally spontaneously. A few nights ago, while David was in the bathtub, I saw the bubbles rise to the surface. David looked directly at me, smiled and without any kind of prompting from me said, "I passed yatz. Scuse me." Has any mother ever heard sweeter words?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

I didn't used to be a worrier.

Did that sound convincing? In all honesty, I have always worried, but not like I do today. Like most parents, much of my worrying centers on David's (and Andrew's) future...and the present…and the guilty worries about things that I should have done differently in the past. Okay, just STOP. And please don't notice that my left eye has been twitching for about the last three months.

So, I was shopping at an undisclosed discount store a few weeks ago (undisclosed for reasons which will be disclosed later) and one of the employees commented on my purchases. I am usually philosophically opposed to people making remarks about what I am buying at the store, probably because I always read too much into what was meant to be a simple observation. "Looks like you have a fun weekend planned." What about a mega pack of baby wipes and a bottle of wine says fun weekend to you?

Anyway on this particular occasion, I realized from this person's comment that not everyone buys every red shirt that they (the people at this unnamed store) stock for the upcoming season. I explained that my son has autism and really only likes to wear red.

We talked for a few more minutes and, as I was swiping my credit card, she told me that she has Asperger's Syndrome. I guess it is the first time that I have met an adult "on the spectrum" who wasn't being introduced at the autism conference, or on a panel, or being interviewed on television. There she was, living her life. She has a job and had mentioned that she has a daughter. And then she told me that her co-workers do not know—hence the veil of secrecy. I almost blurted out, "Are you happy?"

I guess all of my little auxiliary worries (if I were to put them on a worry scale similar to the Scoville scale for peppers and no I am not obsessed) are really just the jalapenos of worries. Does it matter whether or not David goes to college, or has a wife or family? Not really. Those are the things that I used to think were necessary for happiness. Really, my habanero of worries centers on whether or not my boys are happy. And right now, most of the time, David is the happiest kid I know. So I guess my eye can stop twitching for the moment.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

From the Mouths of Babes

A few weeks ago, I wrote about David's love of music. I recently found something I had written last spring on the same topic. So, without further ado….

David has always been moved by music. He loved musical toys as a baby and as his language has continued to develop he has spent a great deal of time singing to himself as he plays. I can usually tell what he is singing, but for the past several weeks he has been singing a song that I just couldn't place.

I was talking to my sister on the phone when David started to sing again. Over the phone line, it became suddenly clear to her as I snuck up behind him so that she could hear him singing earnestly, "Ah ni, ah ni. E choohoo uh ah ni. Ah ni, ah ni. E choohoo uh ah ni."

He then plunged into the rest of the song as he ran his toy car along the sofa cushion.

My sister had taken my older son, Andrew, to a concert at her church and purchased a CD for him. One day when she was driving David to school, the CD happened to be playing in her car and David became enamored with the first two tracks on the album. Three times a week as she drives him to school, they listen to each of the songs twice at David's request. The artist, she told me, is Peder Eide, a contemporary Christian singer and the song David had been repeating over and over again is called "As Is." She told me that she had given me a copy of the CD and that I should listen to it. By some stroke of luck, I was able to find the CD in the rack that David loves to rearrange for me. I opened the inner sleeve to glance at the lyrics as I waited for the CD to load in the kitchen. Here are the words to the refrain that David had been repeating over and over again.

    As is

    As is
    He chooses us as His    

    As His
    As His
    Infuses us as is
    With never ending
    Love transcending
    All our weaknesses
    No excuses
    He uses us as is

These are the words that David had been singing to me, to my family, to anyone who would listen. I just had to stop for a moment to hear him. As his mother, I have been pushing David since before his diagnosis. Pushing him to communicate, to work harder, to catch up to his peers--appreciative but rarely satisfied with the progress that he has made. I have been focused on his developmental delay, his deficit. Here in his gentle way, David unknowingly reminded me that I, too, should stop for a moment to appreciate him "as is."