This year during Thanksgiving, we celebrated with a small family gathering – just me, my husband, our 3 kids, our grandbaby, and her Dad. After dinner, we planned to play board games. Evilasio, my son on the Spectrum, wanted to play Super Smash Bros on the Wii console. I told him that everyone did not know how to play that game. His response, “Let’s take a vote. All in favor, raise your hand.” He was the only one that raised his hand. There was an awkward silence. In that instance, my mind went back to “That was Then” Christmas 2010. Evilasio was 5 and still not completely verbal. We had a similar small gathering but this time, change out my granddaughter and her Dad for my brother and his daughter. They (my brother and my niece) were just getting use to the Autism diagnosis and had not experienced a huge meltdown – yet. Well, that was the day that they learned what an explosion looked like.
Evilasio had been playing the Wii and we wanted to change to a different game. When I tried to change the game, he screamed to the top of his lungs. Legs, feet, and arms were swinging. The screaming was ear shattering. Everyone froze. We had to pick him up – still kicking and screaming – and take him to his room. His little body was shaking, and tears were streaming down his face. I sat with him until he calmed down. As I watched him, I saw my little boy, seemingly stuck in his own world and not able to access the world outside of himself. He seemed so alone in that moment. It brought me to tears just thinking about it.
“This is Now” 2020 was a completely different story. He made his needs known. When we did not immediately comply, he negotiated – “Let’s take a vote.” Then when the vote did not go in his favor, he simply said, “Ok. I’m going to my room now.” The best part was he also said to everyone, “This was a good Thanksgiving. Thanks everyone.” Then later that evening, he told me, “This was the best Thanksgiving ever. The food was good, and I had fun. Thank you, Mommy.” I sobbed after he left because I remembered before. I remembered the face of the little boy who seemed so lonely and stuck inside another world that no one could access. But now, here he is, fully in our world, but still spending time in his own sanctuary as needed. I absolutely loved seeing the contrast from before to now.
Take a journey through your own memories of your child and examine any differences from before (whether that is years, months, or days ago). What changes do you observe? What growth do you see? Appreciate the progress, no matter how small. Feel relief in knowing…. That was THEN – This is NOW!