Friday, August 15, 2014

Riddle Me This- When is it Okay to be Happy Your Son is So Sad he's Crying Hysterically?

When is a mom happy that her son is crying? When her son has autism and he's crying because he knows she's mad at him! It's the best. J 

Who would have ever imagined that I would be watching my son crying deeply sad, almost hysterical sobs and inside I would be saying "Yahoo!!".  

I am so happy. This was a big moment because so many things happened that are an everyday event for neuro typical kids, but not for kids like Nick with autism who lack basic social emotional connections. This is a critical moment because we have been working on helping Nick recognize, understand and hopefully care about the emotions of others for 14 years! It's compassion and empathy that connect human beings and it's where the line is drawn between most of us and dangerous sociopaths. So this event combines critical break through's that keep us from hurting one another. First break through; he knew he had broken the rules and that was a bad thing.  Second, he knew I was angry and he knew he caused it.  Third, and the biggest one of all, he cared that I was upset! He cared how I felt, so much so he broke down in tears. 

I'm sitting here thinking back to the hundreds of times I've faked situations to get a compassionate response and he was totally unresponsive.  I remember throwing myself on the ground in our driveway pretending to be hurt, just to have him walk over me and go in the house. I've pretended to be drowning, having a heart attack or saddened by his actions to get little more than a glance, or he would say "Sad" and walk away. His were observations, not connections and not compassion. Don't get me wrong. If Nick knew he did something wrong based on your response, he could adjust his behavior, but there is a difference between a behavior response, and empathy. 

Until this moment, he's never responded in a way that showed this depth of both empathy and understanding.  Until now, we had no idea that it hurt him to have us angry with him -  not because he would not earn something but - because he cares what we think of him and how we feel.