It was Christmas, and I had saved up enough money to buy all four of my boys their very own MP3 players. Not iPods, but we are a family of torn jeans and hand me down shoes, so I was feeling proud! My youngest son was nine years old at the time, and the only song I had managed to download onto his player was BREAK, by Three Days Grace. Without a doubt, his favorite song, so he was happy!
That Christmas morning I watched him don his headphones and sing with passion and strength that one song, over and over. I couldn't help but marvel at how intuitive he was to relate so intensely with that song!
My youngest son showed symptoms of autism at a very early age. The sensory sensitivity, the social challenges as well as lack of eye contact. By the time he was nine he was able to handle his challenges rather well, but they were certainly still there. I used to send forms to his school explaining that he may throw-up if he saw something 'ugly'. He was always Mr. Popularity, but with great effort and only because without actively being a friend, he would feel afraid and disappear into himself. So he was a very active friend, but it exhausted him!
I know that while listening and singing along to that particular song, my baby boy could express that feeling of wanting to just break away, to stop working so hard at being a friend and just relax; comfortably being himself. When he sang the lyrics, "If you can't stand, the way this place is," he got a little bit louder, and I couldn't help but wonder if he imagined this place as his autism or the neuro-typical world he was trying to live comfortably in.
That was a few years ago, and he has come a long way! He still struggles, but far less. He's still Mr. Popularity, but with more comfort. And he still loves BREAK by Three Days Grace, but in a more fun and inclusive way!
So when I asked him what he wanted to be for Halloween the other day and he shrugged, I suggested a vampire and sang (to his great embarrassment!) 'At night, I feel like a vampire...."
My son just looked at me and said,"Maybe I'll just carry my costume and trick or treat as a kid who's tired of pretending to be something he's not. Do you think they'd still give me candy?"
They'd better kiddo!! They'd better!!
Hugs, smiles, and love!!
Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook)
|My youngest son (the one making a heart on my dad's chest!)|
with his brother and cousins: Halloween 2008
My dad has since passed away. Miss ya dad!