When I tuck in my 16-year-old son Abram at night, he still asks for nighttime cuddles which I think is pretty sweet. It’s generally a quiet time when we read. Conversation is usually light, limited to a series of concrete one word answers: good, fine, no, or a grumble to signify talk time is at its end. But one night recently, he said a whole lot more, and we had an amazing conversation.
By ‘a whole lot more,’ I mean he said four words: “It’s a bit challenging.”
Let me backup a hair and explain some context. Abram recently started horseback riding lessons with his sister. That in and of itself is a triumph, and he’s doing really well. He’s learning skills to guide and steer the horse, though to be totally honest there are days where he is just literally along for whatever ride his horse decides on. I asked him about our most recent lesson, and he expressed not just a feeling, but a feeling with a big word that’s somewhat abstract. Challenging. He’s never communicated like this before!
I tried another question, delving even deeper into the abstraction: What is challenging? And he answered! He told me that “his horse is slow.” Well, he’s developing the skills to change that, and we talked a little about using reins and body weight. He said ok.
I took it as a huge win, because Abram is a kid who I wasn’t sure was ever going to speak or get on a horse. And in this month, when we’re raising awareness among others about autism, I’m taking the idea of autism awareness a little more personally.
Be aware of the wins.
Be aware of the little moments that are big.
Be aware of things about our own child that may not look significant to others, but mean the world to us...and celebrate them.
Because sometimes even those of us who have autism (or special needs of many kinds) as part of daily lives everyday need to celebrate our own kind of autism awareness as well!