Time is an equal opportunity employer. Each human being has exactly the same number of hours and minutes every day. Rich people can’t buy more hours. Scientists can’t invent new minutes. And you can’t save time to spend it on another day. Even so, time is amazingly fair and forgiving. No matter how much time you’ve wasted in the past, you still have an entire tomorrow. ~Denis Waitely
Time is a bit of a twisted ride in my mind. I want to see my son’s future but hold him here in the innocence of his preschool days. I still want to rock him on my lap in our rocking chair and yet I want him to grow independent and strong. I want to keep him safe. I want him to accept new challenges. I’m curious about peeking around the curtain to the future while holding on to the innocence and beauty of childhood.
I need to learn to enjoy the present, to live in the moment with no hang-ups, no fears. To play a game, eat a snack, draw a picture or just cuddle together. Instead, I spend time doing these things, but still worrying about some aspect of my son’s future. Wondering if I’m doing enough for him, seeking enough therapies, finding every available avenue to maximize his chances for success.
Time has become an enemy -robbing me of the present, aging me as it forces me into the future. I feel the present slipping by like a blur. I wonder where the time has gone. I often feel guilty.
Special needs parenting involves things that are different. For me, as an autism parent, the “different” is a behavior that is constant for all my son’s waking hours. It is called stimming. It is behavior that is repetitive and engaged in for it’s soothing nature. When people think of autism behaviors, sometimes hand-flapping or rocking come to mind. My son does not engage in either of these behaviors.
Instead, he is very verbal. The problem is that he only uses his verbal ability to communicate intermittently. Often, the verbalization is nothing more than a stream of conscious random thoughts that are constantly being recycled through his mind. I read that a lot of children and adults engage in the verbal stim although I do not hear much about it.
Here’s a few seconds of a sample in my background as I write [all the lines are his except for the stuff in parentheses or blocked text – this is written as it occurred in order]:
“(Whispers) I’m going to put you in time out … time out…
I’m gonna put you in the closet… [uh- author’s note here – no one has put him in a closet so I don’t know where this came from]
I’m going to put you in time out…
(Whispering) “turn….and start the mo-…ter…. and start the mo-der….but he is too big. Too big. [Yeah. No toys involved. He’s just laying on the bed.]
Show your mom! Mom is here…. (loud)
(whispers) – – you’re gonna –
Fall – mommy say….
Du-uhhh. Board…. dart-board. Not at my face. (whispers)
Take your baseball mit and dont’….. broken….. the doctor.”
I’ve read that some people with autism have this verbal stim because the feeling in the ears is a good one so they will do it until their throats hurt. Others say the stim helps them process information. Having read that, and having listened to my son over time, I believe his vocal stims are for the purpose of processing information and for the sound or the feeling he gets orally from enunciating certain words or putting emphasis on certain syllables in the words. He does get stuck in a loop with words or phrases. I do not know if he is processing, just emptying out the vast loop of dialogue that passes through his brain, or just likes the oral/verbal sensation of doing it.
The verbal stim makes him different. It’s one of the most distinguishing aspects of his disability. He becomes so preoccupied with it that it often takes 3-5 times to get his attention. I have to “bring him back” to me. He is almost in a dream like state. He is not with me. He will snap right out of it when I look straight into his eyes and say his name. Sometimes, he will snap out of it but not know what I just asked. Sometimes he will answer almost immediately, like he is multi-tasking.
The therapists have done a program to help decrease his self-talk (vocal stim) but I do not believe the program is active since they obtained some success on it. It’s been left by the wayside and has come up again. Is it wrong to suppress it? I don’t really bother. At home, it is harmless. He does need to control it for school.
These are times I am afraid for his future. These are times I want to peek ahead at what is to come, hoping that it will be okay or that I can, at least, prepare for it. I can’t. So, I worry.
But just as quickly as it comes, it goes. He asks a few questions or says a couple of things that are with me, relevant and indicate he is present in the now. Then it returns. At last, the next thing I know, he’s quiet as a mouse, having fallen asleep. It is then that I want to freeze time, hold my son close and give him a kiss. He is truly beautiful and he’s mine. I’m glad time is fair and forgiving because then, it allows me to stop the worry and enjoy the moment. And I need to do that…