Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Eyes on Me!

I'm not sure why it was so upsetting because I had, I think, solved an ongoing problem. Justin almost never responds to his name being called. To say it caused stress at home is an understatement! I brought up the old problem yesterday during my home visit from the school. The school's Autism Specialist had suggested that maybe he should check in with Justin's teacher and see if she had any visual cues to get his attention. The visit went like all the others. We went over information and I processed it in a general way with little to no emotion. He's had the diagnosis for almost three years now, just another this morning I asked Justin, "Does your teacher ever say anything to get your attention?" He told me that when she wants to get the attention of the class, she says, "eyes on me!" I asked him if he could do it, too and he told me "yes".

So, I waited until his bright blue eyes were locked onto the new Dr. Seuss show on TV. Wait for it...wait for a direct tone, I stated, "eyes on me". And it worked!! Not only was Justin able to respond to me on the FIRST try, but it was during a preferred task...engaged in television! He even let a little smile escape when he realized what had just happened. I did too. I waited a few more minutes and tried it again. I made sure that he was in deep in his trance between his own thoughts and Dr. Seuss. "Eyes on me!" And it worked TWICE. I let it go. I didn't want to jinx myself or ruin the moment. I told him I was proud of him. He simply said, "Mom, I looked at you because I thought you were the teacher." And just like that, went back to waiting for the bus.

It was only after I was in the shower later this morning that I felt upset. Delayed social processing on my own part. My kid either can't or won't respond to his name most of the time and almost never on the first attempt. He'll be seven in February. He's brilliant. He's beautiful. And sensitive and compassionate (when his brain allows). But, I have to say, "eyes on me" to get him to engage me? Suddenly, I wasn't happy anymore and the re-realization that he has Aspergers Syndrome hit me like a warm, uncomfortable feeling that I couldn't get rid of. Most days, I am at peace with this realization and I work hard to make sure that Justin, is at peace, too.

But sometimes, some days, it almost seems like the little things, the nuances of the situation are what upset me most. My friends with neruotypical children might ask, "If he responds to that, why can't he just respond to his name?" Maybe they wouldn't. Either way, I can't explain it either.


  1. You weren't happy anymore???? I think it is awesome that you were able to get the eye contact towards you and from a preferred task!!! Home visits are so importnant, and as important are the parents visiting the class room. My wife does most of the visits but she is able to see what works in the class. I remember going to William's class when he was first in schhol and he would cry when we had to go. I think he thought we would take him home. Now we get a Hi Mom, Hi Dad and he goes right back to work. I am so proud of the gains he has made.

  2. Carrie take a step back. You have so much to be happy about. Try and separate his diagnosis from him. It's only there to help him get services it doesn't define him. Think of him as Justin. The cute adorable little munchkin who turned to you when you asked him to. It doesn't matter how you got him to engage - the simple fact is you did. That is AMAZING. Kudos for the teacher in helping find a technique that will engage him and kudos to you for being able to carry that over to home! You know how so many things never get carried over by our kids. Justin has done it! HURRAY for him! PLUS he also ate those carrots the other night! He is making HUGE gains and I am so proud of you and Graeme for all you do. Don't beat yourself up over the little things. I will quote something s Bridget Fonda once stated in a movie "I never did mind about the little things" Congrats!

  3. “Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” Robert Brault

    I know its hard though when you realize how much we do and see that other parents may not even think of....but try to look at this way...We have a greater appreciation for what some people might see as little acomplishments.I mean child development in general is a major thing that I don't think everyone realizes. It wasn't until I saw my own daughter struggle with what most babies and toddlers do seemingly naturally that I was able to appreciate the work that EVERY child does to meet mile stones. I remember going back to work ( I was an Infant/ Toddler and preschool teacher ) and looking at the " normal " babies working hard to sit up or stand that I was able to see what a great accomplishment that was for every child. Ours just meet those challenges differently or at different times. The first time Jasmine asked for juice without being prompted to repeat ME asking ( instead of walking up to me and saying.." do you want juice?" ) I remember her Dad and I acting like she had just hit the finish line of her first marathon!! Of course the people around us looked at us like we were what...she asked for we understood how BIG that was and we were happy to have a breakthrough moment.

    I underdstand the sadness of it though and the moments that it slaps you in the face that you have to find what seems like ' abnormal ' ways to relate to your child....but try not to get caught up on that and try to look at the bigger picture...You did it...You broke through...and he did it too...embrace that.

    Allow yourself to grieve and don't beat yourself up over it...but also allow yourself to appreciate the little things :)....Love that your writing...don't know if you follow my blog...but I love writing and am glad I have started doing it again...