Saying What Makes Us Happy

Happy Go Lucky

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!!!

The game!



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)

Welcome.  (Laughter)

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.


About solodialogue

I'm a lawyer and the mom of a 6 year old boy with autism. I work part time and spend the rest driving here and there and everywhere for my son's various therapies. Instead of trying cases, I now play Pac-man and watch SpongeBob. I wear old sweaters and jeans and always, always flat shoes to run after my son. Yeah, it's different but I wouldn't change it for anything. The love of my child is the most powerful, beautiful and rewarding aspect of my life.
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11 Responses to Saying What Makes Us Happy

  1. That gives me the chills. How amazing and touching that the song lyrics echo so well what’s going on.

    I love the pic of your son in this post. He is just so handsome!

  2. Deb Mangum says:

    Karen-I think about you every day when I see your face on my page. I imagine talking to you, sharing our experiences with our amazing sons. I promised to comment on your blog and did not, and wanted to briefly and candidly explain. My journey with my son has been and continues to be a challenge that is fraught with worry over the thousands of decisions, mini to enormous, I’ve had to make as I parent both of my kids, one NT, one with an alphabet of diagnoses. I’m certain you understand the second-guessing, the wondering if a different response would have been better, the fear that they will take some harm into adulthood because of my unpreparedness to choose the “best” course of action. Although I know that moms of NT kids face the same worries, the weight of this responsibility can get crushing. Since the dissolution of my partnered relationship, I have been going it alone for 18 months. With each passing day, I wonder what I have let slip or go by unaddressed.

    Opening the lid on telling the story of my travels in the land of Asperger’s is like opening the hall closet in a house where a large family has lived for 15 years. Everything tumbles out in a bouncing, jumbled, sharp-cornered tangle and lies piled up to my knees, leaving me overwhelmed and rooted to the spot. My fear of opening that door has stopped me from even beginning a conversation with you.

    I commend and wholeheartedly support the way you are seeking early intervention, grabbing support from everywhere you can, and sharing your experiences so generously, gracefully, and openly. I had planned on starting my own blog, and maybe now is the time to implement that dream. But today, my feet are immobilized by the pile of shoulds, what-ifs, remember that time, why did I say that, why didn’t I study harder or read more or….Choosing a place to start is even too much of a decision. If only I could shove everything back into the closet and take out one or two items at a time. Honestly, I’d much rather go make some french press coffee and retreat into Netflix reruns of The X-Files.

    So, my brave darling, you are doing the right stuff, taking the steps you can, talking your experience to a circle of loving hearts. I think I am reflecting the underbelly of the beast. That dark, helpless, fearful place that can trap and freeze. I recognize and witness this place for myself. Maybe by shining a light on this side of the room, the whole picture will become clearer.

    • solodialogue says:

      Deb, You knew you opened the door with this incredible and well-written comment! No excuses, now. You will blog. You will join our community of ASD awareness supporters, bloggers, tweeters and we will welcome you and your exceptional writing skills! So excited for the beginning of this part of the journey!

  3. Tam says:

    beautiful 🙂

  4. Big Daddy says:

    At 13, Griffin still can’t tell me why something makes him happy but he can sure tell me what makes him happy. So, he says what he needs to say and works just fine for us.

    Btw, love the blogroll. Top Billing. You are not permitted to add any blogs starting with the letter “A”.

  5. Dani G says:

    Though they might never be able to tell us why they’re happy, I take a lot of comfort knowing that my bird *is* happy. What a process…

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