A smile with sweet, full, pouty lips. Little white baby teeth. One tiny, new permanent tooth. A little tiny empty space where a tooth used to be. Smiles come from this location each day. They are accompanied by a lot of laughter and lots and lots of words. The little voice asks, “Do you want to go to school?” “Did you win the race?”
Here’s a sample transcript of my son talking to himself during play with a pinball video game [Note: the video game has nothing to do with chicks or John Mayer]:
“it’s just like a pool table thing….BOO-CHICK-BOO!!!
JOOOOOEEE. THE GAME…..DOO-DOO-DOO-DUH-DOO,
Woof-Woof. Mom, say that.
How to make it.
Those are open. To get them to close….
Why is the ball…..?
What is the bally go? John Mayer. Where did the ball go?
Trap. The hole. Oh, the black one. Hole…There’s room.
An…hmmm. The game! The game! Get on the game! Uh-oh!
The BBBBLLLLUUEEE. (rising tone)
To explain, this is self-talk. It’s on with my son during probably, 60 percent of his waking hours. He will talk and talk. The self-talk above, occurred while he was playing video pinball. The long drawn out “JOE” is the word “Joe’s” on the pinball table. “Welcome” is also printed on the pinball table. A ball often gets sucked down a black hole on the table.
He seems to enjoy himself quite a bit. In therapy, he is learning all about feelings. He loves an app called “Autism Xpress” (it’s a free app). This app shows faces which are animated and cry, laugh, hiccup or fart among other things. He thinks it’s a game and clicks on each face to see it perform its assigned emotion.
When asked how he feels, he always answers that he is happy. And, for the most part, he is. I may have not made that clear yet. Despite the challenges we face, my little boy is usually very happy. Full of energy and running like any other kid, he is laughing or content, usually, a good…hmmm….70 percent of most waking hours.
I can’t successfully ask him, “What makes you happy?” yet. It’s too abstract and gets no response. Instead, I interviewed him about what makes him happy with simple questions.
“If mommy leaves, are you happy or sad?” “Sad.”
“Does ice cream make you happy or sad?” “Happy”
From this highly scientific and reliable method of gathering data, I was able to learn the following:
Things that make my son happy include: his blanket, circle time and bath time, race cars, reading books, kisses, computers, birthday parties, Elmo, Spongebob, and John Mayer and Mommy.
Yes, John Mayer. Ironically, he likes only one song called “Say”. Here are some of the lyrics that I have heard him play over and over and over….
Walkin’ like a one-man army.
Fighting with the shadows in your head.
Living out the same old moment.
Knowing you’d be better off instead, if you could only
Say what you need to say…
You better know that in the end,
it’s better to say too much than
never to say what you need to say again
Even if your hands are shaking and your faith is broken.
Even as the eyes are closing, do it with a heart wide open,
Say what you need to say.
My response? Someday, my son. Someday, you will be able to say what you need to say. And that’s what will make me happy too.