Monday, August 18, 2008

Say When

How do you get a Prince to turn off his charm?

No, it's not a joke, although I bet I could be a good one. It is the question I have been debating with myself lately: at what point does expressing affection become inappropriate with special needs kids?

I love that Jacob kisses me, holds my hand and wants to be near me. I love that he brings me a flower or stick every time he comes in from the backyard. It is touching that Jacob draws me, shapes me out of play dough, carries objects around and calls them mom. These are his physical expressions of love for me.

He wants me to be the one who prepares his food, helps him with potty training (yay), and tucks him into bed. He cries when I leave.

This must be one of the things that parents of autistic children wish for the most: connection. So, of course, Chris and I always encouraged any sign that he was aware of us and wanted to interact. Dress-up, drawing, kissing and tickling, chasing, verbal objection, laughing out loud, making any sort of sound at all. We treasured and encouraged these moments.

How would I use my body to express these feeling if I had no words? Without speech, body language and deliberate actions are so much more important, key, for expressing emotions: love, pain, excitement, frustration, fear.

How do I enable him to "talk" in his way, with every part of his body and creativity, while calming the intensity? It has taken six years to get our communication where it is, and now I see that it needs to change. How do I teach body boundaries, especially when its something like kissing, encouraged for all his years?

I want Jacob to continue being the exuberant, joyful child that he is! But how much longer will other people tolerate Jacob climbing around in their personal space? Kissing lips, cheeks, foreheads, indiscriminately touching bodies with no awareness of boundaries?

What is the answer? Will you let me know? I'll keep accepting those flowers and kisses for now.


Julie said...

That is a tough situation with, but with a big pay off. I just picture him with that big smile, lips puckered up, making his way towards his mom. Life with Jacob never gets easier.

Jaimers said...

That's a hard one. I certainly don't have any answers, although, I think we could all use a Jacob around, to remind us that we can show love and express ourselves without having to give a second thought to what the person we were expressing to was thinking. What freedom that would be!

Amber said...

Man that's tough. How to tone down without turning it off or fear of misunderstanding the goal. I wish I had answers for you.

Inkling said... Did you know this was out? You're famous!

Affection--all I can think is redirection and modeling. A very hard question.

Runningspider said...

Hi! I linked to you from Candees blog! I use to be your neighbor at Parkridge... Your Tyler and my Tyler were nearly unseperable as well as Madison and My Katie! Sounds like thinkgs are going well for you. We sure miss you being around, Tyler doesn't have alot of close friends and Katie still talks about Madison.
I will have to link to your blog to keep up on your family!
Come Visit us at:
Have a great day, and hug Jacob for us!
Cindy Braithwaite and Family