It’s a question I’ve been asked often in the past 363 days.
How? How do you know what the ‘problem’ is? How do you get him back to center? How do you know what’s wrong in his world? How do you help him?
My husband once said to my mother (about me), “Loving her is the easiest thing I do every day. She’s easy to love…just pay attention.” I sense a collective ‘awwwww.’
It’s easy to figure Tucker out…just pay attention.
If he’s struggling in a situation (or place) I will often go to that place and
close my eyes…pause…and listen. That tells me what sounds he may be hearing
close my eyes…pause…and inhale deeply. That tells me what smells he may be taking in.
close my eyes…pause…and feel. That tells me about the temperature, the wind, the humidity.
If he’s struggling on a given day I will often go outside, look towards the heavens, and
think. Think about his bedtime.
think. Think about what he had to eat.
think. Think about what is happening at school.
If he’s struggling with emotion and his lip is quivering I simply look at him and
touch his hand. To let him know I’m right there.
tilt my head. To let him know I’m trying to understand.
smile a gentle smile. To let him know it will be okay and his happy will return.
I don’t just look though – I peer into his eyes. It’s true his eyes are the window to his world and the road to his soul. Those eyes speak volumes and when he’s having emotional turmoil it’s about the only time I can actually get to him to look directly at me.
It’s all oddly poetic.
I’ve always been a person who has tried not to judge others. I mean that – in a ‘no matter what’ form. I truly believe that most people are doing the best they can at any given moment. If someone reacts, responds, or hurts me I try to understand where they are coming from…what could have caused the sharp reaction. I also realize that there are just some nasty people out there – but I think it’s those people who REALLY need the benefit of the doubt.
Even then, those are often the people that teach me the most important lessons. Tucker teaches me the most during these melt-down moments, so I remind myself to be thankful for the dark times.
I’m far from perfect – but having autism in our lives is making me better.
There is an old Native American proverb that goes something like, “Oh Great Spirit, help me to never judge another until I have walked in his moccasins.”
I often tell my students that the only truly unique thing about them is their story. Others may have the same color of hair or eyes. They can be the same height and study the same academic area. They could have the same occupation and even the same name. The one thing, though? The one thing that no one else has? Their story.
Their story is their own, unique to only them…so I think the answer to ‘How?’ Is simply that.
I’m simply trying to understand Tucker’s story.
I’m trying to wear his moccasins, big as they may be.