I Love You

Day 10: Autism Awareness Blogathon

A few years ago I realised that unless I taught my boy to say ‘I love you’, that he may never say it spontaneously. Of course I told him that I loved HIM many times, every day. But words don’t come easy to my little boy, so there was never a response to those three special words.

image credit: ilovedoodle.com

Rather than insist that he respond in kind every time I said it, I made it a part of our goodnight ritual. So after cuddles and kisses and settling into bed I would say ‘night night darling’ and ask him to say ‘night night mummy’ back to me. Then I would say ‘I love you’ and ask him to say ‘I love you’ in response.

It’s a done deal these days, I don’t have to ask any more.  He knows how the script goes. He knows that those sounds and words are what we say every night. It’s the last thing we say to each other.

And isn’t that autism in a nutshell? It’s an important social and emotional exchange. One we all need and deserve to participate in. The feelings are there, no question, but for a child with autism, it needs to be unravelled to its core components and taught step by step. They get there eventually, but it doesn’t come naturally.

Would it kill me to never hear those words? No, because I know he loves me and he knows I love him. Will it help him to be able to say those words and express those feelings? Yes. Will it help me and the other people he loves to hear them? Yes with cherries on top.

image credit: the twineryblog.com

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9 thoughts on “I Love You

  1. I can relate to this. We always say “I love you” to Helene – mostly without expectation (but not without hope) that she’ll say it back. Eventually, she’d echo it back to us, and that was good enough. But, then one day, she added the word “too” to the end of her “I love you,” and it was magic. Maybe she was mimicking something else she’d heard, but in that moment, her neurons fired in just the right way, and it was fantastic. One thing that Helene has taught us, though, is that actions really are louder than words. She may not say the words, but the little things she does — running to the car when one of us gets home, carrying over her blanket and asking to be held — those say “I love you” much, much louder, and we’ve become much better “listeners.” 🙂

    • Getting that ‘too’ must have been a very special moment. My little boy recently stayed with his grandparents for a week and when I phoned to see how he was going, I wanted to say hi to him, even though he never actually talks on the phone. When he heard my voice he said ‘hello darling’ and quickly hung up. That was a misty moment for me!

  2. A mother, a teacher, an analyst, and a writer: your children are so lucky to have such a combination!

    You used the word, “script.” Yes, memorizing a script is how many things are taught to these kids—and to the rest of us as well.

    As you said, you know your child loves you; the words may not come out, but his actions will show it!

    • He shows me every day which is lucky, cos it means I forgive him for all the challenges he has presented that day. As you know, some of those challenges are simply not share-able, but the love definitely is!!

  3. What a great idea to add ” I love you” to the bedtime ritual and create a script. I want to try that too not just for me but because right now my little guy wants to show me how much he loves me but he is still working out how to actually say everything to me. Thanks:)

  4. Pingback: I Love Me | love many trust few

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