Wee Man gets lost. Not physically, although I’d be lying if I said that hadn’t happened once or twice, but that’s for another day. What I mean is that he gets lost from me. He becomes distant and impossible to reach. Locked away in his own little world with tunnel vision and fixed views. This can happen for months at a time and it is one of the most difficult and heartbreaking parts of autism for me. I count myself very lucky though as we do get times of lucidity. Times when I can pull him into our world, and I’m happy to say that these are becoming more common. In this respect, we are very, very lucky.
When Wee Man is gone, we say he has ‘left the room’. I feel blind. I can’t see him. I can’t connect with him. I can’t find a way in. And I can’t pull him back. When he’s so far gone, it’s like I’m scrabbling around in the mist; I see his form is moving in front of me, just out of my reach, but I can’t connect and I can’t quite see him clearly.
And then, all of a sudden, the mist will lift. And there he is – my beautiful amazing boy. His eyes will finally reach mine and focus. And then we will talk. He will open up and tell me something. Or ask me about something. And I will discover what it was that stole my boy away from me while he was trying so hard to process and understand it. Recently, he’s been very distant again and I’m sure he’s trying to process a holiday we took in May, but I can’t ask him. I have to wait until he is ready to let me in. And I can’t second guess either, in case I am wrong and then inadvertently add to his list of things to think on and worry about!!
Wee Man is at a special school for autistic children. In that wonderful, wonderful school there are children that are so locked away inside themselves that they don’t speak. They don’t interact with the world around them in the same way that we do. And they will need help and support for the rest of their lives. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t want to interact. And it certainly doesn’t mean that they want the world to stop trying to interact with them. These children may not look you in the eye, but that doesn’t mean they’re not listening to every word you’re saying. They may not flash you a beaming grin, when you greet them, indeed they may not even acknowledge you are even there. But that mustn’t stop you from trying to persuade them from their world for a few moments, to enjoy something in yours. Just go very gently and respect that they may find your world noisy, smelly, too bright, too dark, confusing and scary. Because the more they experience your world, and find it a positive experience, the more they may want to venture into it.
I will never, ever stop trying to pull Wee Man into our world, because, although I know he may never stay for long, just having him here for just a few moments is just brilliant.