This is one of the faces of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). It is also a face I adore. Most of the time he is a happy and affectionate young man. Sometimes he gets overwhelmed by the sensory information he experiences. He will shut down (sleep) and let his brain recover or perhaps cover his ears or start running and running.
Other times he needs extra stimulation...he loves movement and is drawn to moving vehicles and swings and chase sequences in films...touch and seeks hugs and the lovely feeling of water especially the differences between above and below the surface (unless its cold).
We worry about him, his innocence and his vulnerability and his knack of knowing when you are not fully attentive. Things can go easily happen then.
All my friends with children on the spectrum have "lost" them for a minute or much more. They don't answer, they know where they want to go and go, they know what they want and when to get it. No-one can be that attentive. So we panic when they gleefully run off in a book store, knowing there is a road outside and more than one exit, when we realise they can get into a cupboard and possibly hurt or poison themselves. Many of us have to lock up our houses like "Fort Knox" to keep our precious child safe....and that is still not enough. Every 6 months or so we hear on the news that another one of our gorgeous children has been killed by a train or a car or has drowned. It hits all of us hard.
Because they are precious: they are our fascinating mysteries wrapped in an enigma, frustrating and beguiling and pure and exhausting and adorable. They drive us crazy as I'm sure we do them (and the weird strange world we live on). They need our help, our understanding and our love. The simple act of a kiss or the word "Mummy" is the greatest gift that so many people take for granted.
Liam understands so much and so little. He has the most expressive face. He has autism, but that doesn't make him a different species any more that a person with diabetes or cancer.
We also forget that every one of us has autistic traits. So how different are we really? A little understanding, acceptance and patience goes an awfully long way.
Well I'm off to give m y little treasure a hug and a tickle. He loves being tickled and I love his gleeful laughter.
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