ome sweet home,” said Owen yesterday, as we returned from our spring break trip to visit family in Ohio.
“Home sweet home,” I echoed, as I often do with his comments. The repetition seems to reassure him that I’ve heard him, and he’ll often repeat himself until he gets that reassurance.
Sure enough, that ended the back-and-forth cycle. As we unpacked and started the laundry and settled back in, however, I found the line reverberating in my head. I’ve written before about how little things aren’t so little when it comes to kids, and especially with kids on the spectrum. As one of the latter group, Owen is inherently a more anxious kid who has more trouble fitting into social situations and more difficulty communicating within those situations than neurotypical kids.
Yet with those three little words, he communicated that home is a safe place. A place where he fits in, feels comfortable, and is happy to be.
Wow. How huge is that? Now, that’s not to say home is the only sweet place. He couldn’t wait to leave for the trip and see his cousins, waking at 3 a.m. on departure day. Same thing happens for Mackinaw City, our annual summer vacation destination. And I know he feels at home in his classroom. But with that comment, I know home is THE place. And that is huge.
Like a lot of other parents, I tie myself in knots, wondering if I’m doing the right things/enough things to help him. Too much advocacy? (= bellicose parent?) Too little advocacy? (= missing opportunities?) Too hands-on (= fostering dependency?) Too hands-off (= leaving him to flounder?) An extra speech therapy session or ABA? Prompting replies when he stays silent? What’s worth a meltdown? What to do? Or to do anything?
Today is World Autism Awareness Day. Like a lot of things in the autism community, it’s not without divisiveness (scroll to No. 17 of Autistic Hoya’s excellent summary), awareness vs. acceptance being the controversy du jour. But for today, I’m going to repeat that line to myself.
Home sweet home. That home, that sanctuary, is a place that my husband and I have created for our son. He is aware of it. For today, I will accept that as enough. Maybe even plenty. The questions can return tomorrow.
- The letter H brought to you by Daily Drop Cap.