Autism is …
… your child never naturally engaging or joining in. It is when you try everything to get them involved, but realise you need to set your expectations lower. Set them at basement level, because then, the only way is up!
“Let’s do face painting” shouts my little girl, bringing me a old box of face-paint she has found in the toy box.
I open the box, it is slightly hardened, but after a few drops of water, we are ready for princess faces or super hero villains.
“Sit back” she says, holding up a blue coated paintbrush to my face. I close my eyes, firstly for relaxation, but quickly notice the need for safety!
It is a win-win situation. My little girl gets to paint, and I get a free facial. The paintbrush glides over my face and I feel tingles throughout my head. Lush! I could sit here all afternoon. Maybe when she is done with the painting we can move onto playing hairdresser, or she can run her dolls feet across my back in an imaginary royal parade.
These are the parenting moments I live for.
I am however pulled out of my relaxed state by laughter. Opening my eyes I am met with two big blue eyes and a mop of blonde hair. My daughter has been pushed to the side, while my son takes amusement from my newly painted face. Tbe crazy lines and marks are a comical addition to his laid back afternoon.
“Rhys, paint?” I ask, handing him a paintbrush coated with face paint. My expectations of my son joining in are still at rock bottom. Knowing from past experience that face painting is not something on his ‘fun’ agenda.
Holding out the paintbrush I am immediately proved wrong. He takes it in his hand, bringing it to my face and adding some new lines to my shocking appearance.
He then steps back and giggles.
I have no clue what I look like, but I would put on any funny costume every day to have this type of engagement and interaction.
My expectations have left the basement and are now on cloud 9. I have my son laughing and enjoying a family activity. Something impromptu without the planning, stress and complexity that so many other activities have had.
We keep trying every day, and every now and then we get these moments which come out of nowhere.
Don’t ever give up. Keep trying to engage with your child every day. It will sometimes feel like you are going backwards but one day you will see your child jump a hundred steps forward.
And it is these days we live for. Because they are the successes that give us the strength to keep on going.