I wish I could see inside his mind, and see what he sees, feel what he feels and know what Autism is for Mateo. I wish he could clearly communicate to me when he is anxious or over-stimulated when the world is closing in on him before he reaches that point, the tipping-point that precedes the breaking point.
My husband and I have gotten really good at helping him at the tipping point to rescue him before the breaking point hits. But sometimes it hits. Sometimes a full glass of water will land on his lap at dinner and there is no warning, but we know it’s over. Sometimes he will stumble and fall and the world crashes. And sometimes he will pick himself up, brush himself off and move on without incident. Some days are easy, some days are a very difficult struggle. But we don’t really understand why.
At a family party for my grandmother the other day I spotted him off sitting alone, with my phone, stimming non-stop. And inside I felt so sad. His sister was quietly swinging on the bench swing, smiling away, as he could not stop moving his hands and making vocalizations. I am sad, not because of the differences in his behavior, but the fact that the anxiety of being in a new place is causing with all of my family is causing it. Maya goes up to him and asks him to swing with her. He shakes his head, and goes back to stimming. And my heart sinks, because warning sign one is when Maya can’t rescue him.
So I approach him and talk to him, ask him if he will join me at the table. He asks if he can watch a show, so I put on Netflix and he chooses Blue’s Clues. Mateo would probably never admit to his school age friends that he watches Blues Clues or Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. But I know those shows calm him down and make him feel good. They are his security blankets that bring him back from the breaking point.
So watching the show, his stimming is less frequent and he slowly can process the people he doesn’t see all of the time. And I relax when I see him back to chasing his cousins, not asking to go home and a huge smile returning to his face. He and his cousins are all swinging together laughing joyfully and we made it. No breaking point, no need to leave early. And he is happy. And that is truly all I want in this world for him.