It’s been a little over 30 days since I posted here. As some of you may realize, I do have a law practice, though mostly, it is my partner/husband who runs it. Long ago, when I was about 6 months into writing here, I took a break to try one of the largest cases of my career and it was in trial for the entire summer. I lost that case and my belief in the system of justice, never mind, my abilities as an advocate… That was a hard loss.
Now, I am again preparing for a trial that is to start in early June. I didn’t want to say anything here because (1) I am superstitious and (2) I don’t want to again put myself in a position to tell you about another loss. But here I am. I thought I owed you an explanation for my silence.
In the midst of all the preparation, I’ve had a sick kid (sinus infection then double-whammied with hand-foot-mouth disease the same week) and a mom who’s managed two back-to-back ER visits over the weekend. Let me just say that the sandwich generation is hard.
I wish I could get around to read all your blog posts and stay in touch on Facebook and prepare for trial, train a new associate and take care of my son, but I just can’t. I don’t intend to allow this blog to become cluttered with weeds but I cannot maintain a regular schedule at present. I will try to visit when I can, like what I can in the few stolen moments I get on Facebook, and know that I do care and love to watch your children grow right alongside by own child.
With that said, I will leave you with this quick story about empathy…
My son loves everyone and everything. No – literally, he does. Here’s an example of a daily exchange we have:
“Mommy, do you love your nite-nite doll?”
“I don’t know T, do you?”
“Yes! Mommy, does your nite-nite doll love you?” (Pronouns people… he means does “my” “love me”)
“Of course. Everyone loves you,” I reply.
This conversation occurs not just with his Kai-Lan nite-nite doll, but with his Scout nite-nite doll, Sheldon the class turtle, James Bond (don’t ask… well, okay – he found a car with James Bond music on it so now the car is James Bond…), and many other inanimate objects. In fact, when I think about it, it’s mostly inanimate objects that are the subjects of these requests for assurances of love.
And, yes, perhaps, in response, I exaggerate about who actually “loves” my son, but so what? I don’t think he needs to know the harsh realities of the world at age 6. The world is a lot more pleasant place when everyone loves each other anyway, so I encourage that belief.
Now despite all this love, sometimes, I cry. I may cry because I ate too many donuts or because all my blog readers have gone away, or I stubbed my toe on yet another Hot Wheels toy. Regardless of the ‘def-con’ level of my tears, the little guy nearly always comes running over, practically tackles me with hugs and kisses and says, “I love you mommy!” to try to cheer me up.
And I have to admit. This is some pretty special attention. It always and unfailingly cheers me up.
In ABA, there is this concept called “generalizing”. It means that my son has consistently gained some skill, whether it be putting on his own shirt, passing a ball, or responding to a greeting. He’s perfected this skill to a degree where he’s – what they call, “mastered” the skill, doing it at a 95-100 percent of the times it’s called for. The next step is to generalize that skill to natural circumstances when it comes up. Sometimes, it works. Sometimes, it doesn’t.
The little guy’s empathy has never been the subject of an ABA program. It’s never been an issue. I never stopped to think whether his unending empathy for his mom would ever be seen in a much less natural environment, like school. You know, school? That place where he rarely says “hi” back to his classmates unless prompted? That place where he has to watch videos of the kids’ names to recognize who they are? Well, it seems my little boy with autism does not need to “learn” empathy. He feels it just when it’s needed the most.
Recently, T and his classmates were cleaning up at the end of the school day. All of them have bath mats for rugs they use when they have to do tasks in pairs on the floor. They sit on these rugs on their chairs in class. T was folding up his mat to put it away when a classmate – who we will call “Sally” – was rushing by behind him, not looking where she was going and, you guessed it – Sally tripped and fell flat on her face behind T.
According to reliable sources (i.e., his tutor), T immediately turned around, went straight down to the floor where she was crying and hugged her. He asked, “Are you alright, Sally?” and before waiting for a reply, he added, “I love you Sally!” Apparently, the teacher and the tutor could not believe how full of compassion the little guy was. Sally also was surprised. Her response? “I’m okay. I love you too, T.”
How’s that for empathy?
Thanks for being patient with me readers. I’ll be back on a more regular basis when things calm down.