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Always Listening

Finally back on track!!! Thank you for bearing with me through all of my catch up time! It’s so good to be back!

Family - time and miles cannot destroy that which is rooted in love and trust.

Family – time and miles cannot destroy that which is rooted in love and trust.

ALWAYS LISTENING

It’s a warning parents have heard since the beginning of time: Be careful what you say, little ears are listening. It’s true. Even when you think no one is listening, it’s those little ears that hear everything and their minds are often a steel trap.

This sometimes gets the big people in a pickle, for example when something doesn’t go as the little people planned , suddenly words we wouldn’t expect to hear from a little one pop out. Other times, it’s a forgotten promise made by a big person, remembered by a little person who isn’t afraid to repeatedly ask when the promise will happen. But sometimes, we have these moments when we realize our kids are picking up on things, good things, we didn’t even realize they were paying attention to at all.

So it was this weekend. We made our almost annual pilgrimage down home to visit my parents. It was a short trip, less than 48 hours there, but so worth it as we were able to spend some time with my oldest nephew and his mother, celebrate his high school graduation, and just reconnect. See, we lost his dad, my brother, in 2008. Life happened, and here we are, seven years later, living in separate states and not having seen each other since the day of the funeral. Ben was a baby and Ali wasn’t even on the radar last time we were together. We’ve kept in touch over the years always remaining family, but correspondence can’t compare to smiles, hugs and laughter shared.

When Ben was diagnosed with autism, he was also given a diagnosis of Expressive/Receptive Language Disorder and a motor delay. This means that he may struggle understanding what is being said to him and expressing himself as well. It was determined that day that he understands much more than he is able to explain and the motor delay causes a slightly different gate when he walks and runs.

Singing, dancing and drawing are a few of Ben’s very most favorite things and thankfully, they have helped him develop his muscles so that the effects of his motor delay are fairly minimal, mostly unnoticeable to the general public. Music has provided a point of connection for us in that he invites us to sing and dance with him. It’s a wonderful way to play, laugh and ultimately connect which can lead to strides in communication.

Among his current favorites are The Wiggles, an Australian children’s music group formed in Sydney, New South Wales in 1991. They believed in empowering children by practices such as greeting their audience members with “Hello, everyone,” and introducing themselves, followed by “and we’re The Wiggles!”

Ben has picked up on this and enjoys going around the room, inviting everyone to introduce themselves. He did this in a room full of people Saturday afternoon, some of whom he hadn’t seen since he was six months old. Those gathered included grandparents and cousins who hadn’t been together in at least a year, some even longer. The conversation was great and the laughter was loud. This alone can sometimes trigger a meltdown as his sensory system gets overloaded.

So we were well pleased this didn’t seem to be the case on Saturday. As the last person gave their name, instead of saying, “and we’re The Wiggles,” Ben looked at me, smiled, took a bow and said, “and we’re with our family!”

This from a boy who battles Expressive/Receptive Language Disorder and all the challenges of Autism; I think sometimes he understands things better than the neurotypical people in our lives.

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