For the last couple of days we have been hanging out in the same space. We have been going about our same old regular routine without any expectations from me. Every now and then I will go and sit with him, or perhaps walk past him and ruffle his hair. I make the odd little declarative comment and wait for him to react. I notice that his processing time has slowed down so I remind myself to be mindful and wait just a little bit longer for his response. At one point I get irritated with both my children and send them outside to pick up the dog toys that lie scattered around the garden. I tell myself that I am a regular mother and I am allowed to get cross and be imperative in my manner (on occasion!).
Nick is thawing...
Two days of no pressure from me and my relationship with Nick is back to where it was before I left him. Nick is engaged and interactive. Our connection is strong.
The easiest way to test that we were back on track was to take a trip to the supermarket. The following is a quick summary of a few things that stood out for me;
We get out of the car at the supermarket: Nick doesn't close his door properly (I go to tell him, however, I pull back and decide to wait). Nick realises his mistake and goes back to close the door.
I say, "we need a trolley". Nick looks towards the trolleys, looks at me.. and then indicates that we must walk together to collect the trolley. He chooses the trolley and takes on the role of pusher!
We walk together into the supermarket: Generally, Nick will go ahead and do his own thing for a while... although he never moves out of my sight and he always references me to check what I am up to. Today, he stayed with me and coordinated his actions with mine. If I slowed down, he slowed down. If I turned into an isle, he turned into an isle. I have to say that I had a huge smile on my face when I realised that he wanted to be with me and that he was very aware of what was happening.
We get to the fruit and vegetable section: I am hunting high and low for oranges. Nick follows my erratic movements. We communicate using non verbal facial expressions. He is relaxed and completely comfortable with the chaos of the moment.
Eventually, we reach the pet section: I am talking away to myself about finding a nice toy for the dog. Nick stops me at one of the shelves and points out the picture of a dog... it is our breed of dog!! I spotlight that it looks like our dog. I then see a litter bag with the picture of a cat on it. I point to the cat without saying a word. Nick picks up the bag so I have to tell him that we don't need it. I indicate the cat again.... Nick says "c"..."a"...."t". WOW, I didn't expect that! I was actually expecting him to make the *sign* for 'cat'.
Nick points out the picture of a man who is pulling a face and makes the sign for "cross".
We are wandering down an isle and I mention that I would love to take a photo of Nick: You know those little kids that put on a huge cheesy grin when it is photo time? Yep, that was my boy (this is new!). After I took each photo I showed Nick how it turned out and I made comments. i.e "oops this one is blurry", "oh no, you moved". Nick looked at each one intently and with purpose.
(very scary looking photo!!)
We get to the checkout: Nick automatically takes on the role of removing the items from the trolley and puts them onto the conveyor belt. His passive days are but a long ago memory! He looks to me often and I also make little declarative comments. i.e "wow, that one is heavy". "this is so easy". Nick notices a can of deodorant on the belt, he looks at me, he touches the can and then makes the sign for smelly! Oh my hat, all this experience sharing from Nick is amazing. HUGE! I quickly double check that I have understood him by saying "you are right, the deodorant is smelly", to which he nods his head for "yes".
Who would have thought it ~ that my boy would one day be an equal partner... engaged, coordinated, co-regulated and capable of expressing his thoughts. My severe boy who used to be so stuck in his rigid little patterns and who used to cry when we drove into the car park of this particular supermarket. For many years, I actually stopped taking him anywhere because his distress was too much to bear. Who would have thought that he would be so relaxed and happy with all that was happening around him.
We are more than back on track, we are actually gathering speed........
I threw my boy a little curve ball and sent in a blueberry muffin for snack time. Without any fuss he picked out the blueberries and ate the muffin. The last time he ate a muffin was five years ago!!