"Children with autism are very observant so they will notice everything, including your attitude toward them." -Trevor Pacelli
I got an email today from Jacob's BCBA that had me in tears. It read:
I wanted to give you a few updates on some happenings of the past few days with Jacob. On Friday two of his peers switched places so he had a new person in his room. Of course with this being new and unexpected he had some difficulties and he refused to speak. However, as it was the end of the day (around 3PM) I sat down with him for a "heart to heart." I explained that he had a new friend in his room and I know that's scary so he doesn't want to talk around that new friend. I told him that was okay and I understood he was not very happy with the change and I apologized for not telling him earlier. Then I told him that he didn't have to talk for the rest of the day (his therapists just did receptive programs), and he could have the weekend to get used to it and think it over but on Monday I would expect him to be good to go and talk with his new friend in his room. And lo and behold yesterday morning he was perfect! Obviously I cannot say that the talk with him worked but I thought it was at least cool and wanted to mention it ☺ He has been fine and has not engaged in the mutism due to that friend since! Also, yesterday with Valentine's Day I had him go with his therapist and walk around to each of his friends and hand out a valentine to each. He did AWESOME! He handed out each valentine appropriately..."
First of all, I am so excited that he enjoyed Valentine's Day. I'm glad his clinic is showing him how to be a friend and share. Secondly, I am thrilled that Jacob overcame his fear! Jacob gets very nervous in certain situations. He refuses to speak while we are in the car or at certain places, even if I am offering him his headphones or candy or something extremely desired. Selective Mutism is his way to deal with the intense stress of noises or change. He won't say a single word for hours (or days at the clinic) not even a yes or no. Typical treatment is counseling, but he is still unable to hold conversations with people. His language is still pretty basic. He can ask to play outside, or for a drink, but he does not engage in back and forth conversational speech. Because of that, I realized that sometimes I don't fully explain situations to him. I don't know if this pep talk from his BCBA worked or not, but I cannot assume that it didn't. Its been proven that many individuals with autism understand so much, they just can't communicate what they have to say.
This has really encouraged me to describe situations clearly and to do more for Jacob spiritually, as well. Though he may not understand everything, I need to be constantly pouring God's word into his heart in a deeper way. I need to continue to share the Gospel with him and also read scripture about his anxiety and trusting God. Regardless of what I think he may be understanding, I need to talk to him as if he does understand. I need to show him dignity by speaking to him in a way that is not babyish and that is respectful and intelligent.
Please be praying for me as I try to parent Jacob. I know I am not alone in this. Other autism parents are also trying to raise their growing children unaware if what they are doing is working or appropriate. This is totally new territory for me and so much is unknown. It’s hard not being able to hear from him regarding his fears and needs and understanding, but I have faith that God will guide Cret and I and give us wisdom as things comes up. I am so thankful for Jacob and the special bond we have. I am so thankful that God is teaching me new things everyday through parenting. God is so good.