Saturday, September 5, 2009

The silent treatment


Bearhug and Cuddlebug are quite verbal, and for that I am grateful. However, it is clear to me that while they may make it look effortless to the average observer, it does in fact take a fair amount of effort. I notice their words beginning to slur whenever they are tired or over-stimulated. Sometimes when it’s too much effort, they resort to hand signals and body language (pointing, nodding, etc.). And sometimes, all efforts to communicate break down.

This happened recently with Bearhug. A couple of weeks ago, he seemed upset after bathtime. He followed me around for a few minutes but wouldn’t talk to me when I asked him what was wrong. Having a just-bathed, squirmy Bitty to contend with (the boy who despises baths which makes bathtime a real treat), I shrugged and went about getting Bitty dried and dressed. I was about to head downstairs when I decided I’d better go check on Bearhug again first. I found him curled up on the floor next to his bed – still not dressed. A little concerned to find him like that, I asked him again what was wrong.

Silence.

I waited a few moments and asked again. More silence. I started trying to guess. Was he hungry? Thirsty? Tired? Cold? Not feeling well? Did his tummy hurt?

I paused after each question, looking for any sign of a response. There was none.

I noticed that he was directly under the air conditioner vent and asked him again if he was cold. Getting no response, I told him if he got dressed, he’d feel warmer. Still nothing.

I decided to take a chance that maybe that was it, and I pulled the comforter off the bed and put it on top of him. No response still. I gave up trying to talk to him and just laid down on the bed next to where he was. I figured eventually he’d have to get up, right? And I didn't want to leave him alone like that, when it seemed obvious that something was wrong even if I had no idea what it was.

Several minutes later, he got up and climbed into the bed next to me, bringing the blanket with him. He cuddled up to me, but was still silent. So was I.

A few more minutes passed, and he jumped up, seemingly back to his chipper self.

“Sorry, Mama,” he said.

“For what?”

“For not answering you, I was too cold to talk.”

“It’s ok. But next time you’ll be warmer if you get dressed right away.”

And with that, he was off to get dressed, and he was fine. We have these little episodes every now and then, sometimes with Cuddlebug too. (Bitty doesn’t go silent when he’s overwhelmed, he goes into meltdown mode). I wish I could read their minds on days like that, because the guessing can be frustrating, especially when I’m guessing wrong.

Actually it seems to be more frequent recently but I think it's because of all the "new" things going on - a new school year - with a new teacher, new classmates, new classroom, and new lunchtime - starting Scouts, etc. Things are slowly starting to settle down again as each of us gets accustomed to our new routines. Despite a few speedbumps, this is actually probably the smoothest transition we've had into a new school year - ever. Let's hope that's the start of a new trend ;).






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1 comments:

Julie on September 16, 2009 at 12:18 PM said...

Thank you for posting this. I've been frustrated by Daniel's (sometimes) lack of speech. I know that something is going on with him or that something is wrong, but he just can't get the words out and I can't read his mind! We'll make it through, but it's comforting to hear that it happens to others too. I love how you handled this and how he used his words and told you what was wrong after...

 

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I'm a mom of three boys on the autism spectrum, 11-yr-old identical twins and a 7-yr-old. My husband is a SAHD.

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