Reading between the lines

Parenting a child with autism is an exercise in reading between the lines.  What is my child trying to say with his behavior or outburst?  Communication is often difficult for children with autism, especially when they also are developmentally delayed.  Kenny and I have become pretty good at reading between the lines.

Not only were we thrown for a loop when HD entered the picture, but it seems we forgot about reading between the lines.  One of the gifts God has given lately is reminding us that we need to use our "spidey sense" (as our niece would say) and read between the lines.

Lacy has been wanting to come home lately.  He talks about packing bags and coming home.  We were feeling really upset about this, since we can't handle him spending the night at this point.  He is incontinent, we don't have a good set up in our spare bedroom, and he is awake most of the night.  In truth, he wouldn't want to stay for any length of time.  When we began to really look at the circumstances around his wish to come home, it was clear that he was feeling really vulnerable.  The flu has been rampant in Arkansas, and all his regular caregivers have been sidelined by it.  He wants someone with him that knows him well.  He's feeling uneasy about the frequent changes in staff.   We visit at night and read Bible stories from his Picture Bible.  That seems to give him a lot of comfort.

I stopped by after school one afternoon this week.  Lacy had fallen several times and finally bent his super duper walker.  It's still functional, but it was just too much that day.  I asked him if he was all right.  He nodded then told me, "I'm tired of falling, Mom." 

I suggested his motorized wheelchair and he jumped at the chance to try it out.  There were a lot of people cheering him on as he navigated outside on the sidewalk, then back into the day room.  Just knowing that he had an option helped him feel a little bit better.  His mood improved.  

Mood swings come and go.  Lacy is angry about losing function, and his behavior gets away from him.  He can't control his thoughts or emotions any more.  Sometimes outbursts are just that, but sometimes they have a deeper meaning, and sometimes reading between the lines is the best we can do.


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