Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Checked Out or Tuned In?

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Where are you, whatcha thinking about, Little Guy?
If you have an autistic child, you probably notice that they often seem to drift off, absorbed in their own world, staring blankly.  We all do this, but frequent lapses can be a symptom of autism, a necessary shutting down from sensory overload.  I'm always taken aback because G is so high energy, fidgety, singing, chatting, pointing, yelling, whining.  When he's quiet and still, I panic a bit.  I always wonder where he goes on his little breaks, try to imagine what he's thinking.  Is he engaged in the "autistic savant thing": counting - stimming,  mulling over a complex mathematical equation, composing a symphony?  Likely not.  Or the more typical singing a catchy tune in his head, remembering a fun activity, taking in the scenery, simply daydreaming.  Or just...nothing??? 

Today I discovered I need to be mindful of what I do and say because he may be taking it all in - even when he appears "checked out".  In the car this morning G was not his usual lively chatty self, staring out the window instead.  I usually try to engage him in conversation, but today I took advantage of this quiet moment to call my husband and leave him a voicemail.  I explained a recent charge on a credit card, saying that we'd have to discuss some ideas I had for Christmas gifts this year.  I went on with a few other mundane necessities about shuttling kids tonight, asked if he needed anything from the store, etc. and hung up. 

A full minute later, G said, "Who were you talking to, Santa?" 
Hello Santa,
I'd like a full-size real garbage truck
and WM uniform please.

Does he always pay attention when I think he's in another world or did he just perk up when he heard "Christmas gift"?  His face held the blank stare the entire time. I habitually look back at him repeatedly while's a mom thing. 

I wonder if he'll expect Santa to pick him up later too?  :)