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 day...so 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 it...in 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.