Sometimes I wish there was a manual. I wish I knew what was coming. I wish I knew what was happening in his head.
Mateo started a group therapy session, and yesterday was his second time going. He was very apprehensive about going in. Kept saying, “No thanks, Mama, No thanks!!” And pulling away from me, trying to run away from the building. His voice was so anxious, but I had no idea why. He left last week in a great mood, seemed to have a wonderful time. But something was putting him on edge.
So I picked him up and brought him in, sat down and put him on my lap. I gave him some deep compression squeezes to try to help relax him. With his Sensory Processing Disorder, which many kids with Autism have- deep compressions help him feel grounded. Hoping it would help, I squeezed him a few times, and he relaxed and looked around taking in his atmosphere. The waiting room was filled with kids from his age to teens, all on the spectrum or with a disability.
The little ones ran in circles, the older kids paced the room and some sat in a chair looking down. The room had an intense energy to me. But I could see that they were so happy to see each other. When a friend would enter the room they would talk to each other without looking at each other, without making any eye-contact or even raising their head. How do they know who they are talking to? One would say “Hey Man!”, eyes to the floor. And the other would respond “Hi!”. They knew. They had an understanding, a different way to communicate.
Teo felt fine once we were in that packed room of kids, many times a room like that would make him feel anxious, but he sat happily on my lap. I wonder if he knows they are like him. I think he does.
New places never were a problem for Mateo before. He was always easy-going, and we would take him and Maya every where. But lately, things are becoming more difficult, unknown situations seem to make him anxious. Reuben and I talked about it, he was worried of regression. But I actually think it’s him growing up. He now feels like he can control where he goes, he has the ability to say No and voice his opinion which he didn’t a year ago.
I see it getting harder on him and harder on us. I see it in those kids eyes, fitting in is hard, feeling normal in a world that judges you as abnormal is impossible. I search them of an answer, look at the adults that have older kids and have been through it. But there are no easy answers, no manuals, no hidden tricks. We all have to take it one day at a time.
He left happy again, telling the other boy from his group therapy “Bye!”. I asked him, “Did you have fun?”, “Fun” he answered. I guess we will see what next week brings.