Yesterday morning my four-year old son said “Hi” to me. For most other parents, that’s not a big deal but for me it’s hard to put into words just how happy it made me feel. Think about it: it’s over 24 hours later, I’m still beaming, and am now writing about it.
Just because he said “Hi”.
And yes, it’s happened before. Though to be honest, I can’t remember the last time.
Around 6:30 am, I was sitting at my computer and I heard him get out of bed. In his usual quiet way, a tired, somewhat groggy, young Matt approached me quietly from behind.
“Good morning, son!” I said, expecting the usual silence in response.
“Hi daddy”, he replied softly.
At that moment, I think I smiled bigger than I have in a long time. It was just another example, in a string of many recently, of just how Matt continues to kick autism’s ass.
In the past few weeks, almost daily, he says a word or phrase we’ve not heard him say before. He’s beginning to have back-and-forth dialogs with this twin brother. A few days ago, he demanded me to go into the kitchen and get him a rice krispie treat.
Two days ago, he told his teacher he loved her. He also told the teacher’s aide her dyed hair looked nice.
Autistic children are often self-focused; some might even say downright selfish. With Matt, there is certainly a high-level of self-reliance. His brain is wired to stay within his own comfort zone, he demands structure, and definitely has his own set of rules to follow. So to ask for help, initiate conversation, or even engage in play with others isn’t always easy for him. As a matter of fact, I think it’s quite difficult.
Yet without even trying, really, he has his share of friends. At school, he’s idolized as it’s believed Matt is the first, and perhaps only, preschooler to escape class, making it all the way to the playground before being caught. Even in spite of that, his teacher still wants to take him home with her.
That little boy, who for so long seemed trapped inside in his own mind, is experiencing another world. His reality is merging with ours.
Now it becomes a matter of consistency. He needs to do it not just daily, but pretty much always and on-demand. It’s another tall order, but after smashing through the previous goals put in front of him – what’s one more?
And on a side note…
In a recent visit to the kindergarten class, the kids were working on their “sight-words”. Being in special education pre-kindergarten, Matt hasn’t been exposed to sight-words yet. For fun, Matt’s aide put down three words in front of him just to see what he would do. To her surprise (but not to ours), he was three for three.