Mommy, Gone Missing

I’m back from Germany, as of late Wednesday evening.

Just in time to (1) watch the Rangers blow their series against the Devils, shattering dreams of repeating 1994’s Stanley Cup run; (2) get caught, twice, sans umbrella in the thunder and splattering rainstorms passing through New York; (3) waste an afternoon at the Apple StoreGenius Bar” attempting to rectify a software glitch; and (4) spend a pretty decent day with Martin.

He had yesterday off from school, so we made a day of doing exercises and running some errands.

After breakfast—leftover green pudding, which Martin practiced scooping and eating by himself—and HANDLE exercises, we headed out to the Union Square Greenmarket for meat and duck eggs. The trip presented an RDI opportunity: Martin and I discussed which subways we could take, and where we would transfer, and how we would board either the 4 train or the 5 train. (Like many ASD kids in New York City (I’ve discovered, from talking with other parents from his school), Martin memorizes train lines and insists we take a particular train, even if another hits the same stations.) He did swimmingly. On one train he opted to stand and hold a pole, and he kept balance as the car braked and rattled and jerked from station to station. My little straphanger.

At the Greenmarket he was calm, enough, as we visited the farmers I know. He willingly held my hand while walking, and stayed close when I needed both hands for my wallet and insulated food bag. Only when he spotted the Union Square playground did he get fussy and impatient. I bargained another five minutes’ shopping time (“…and then we’ll go to the playground…”), and we hit the playground.

The playground, where we had one of our little miracles.

The playground experience with Martin has evolved. A year ago the process was exhausting; Martin had so little environmental awareness that I had to scamper to position myself below him constantly, in case he failed to realize that the jungle-gym or bridge was ending and launched himself off the end. Sometime during summer 2011 we moved to a new level, wherein I could sit on a bench and watch Martin from afar. Still, I could not let him from my line of sight, insofar as he rarely kept track of me and might wander away.

That’s where I was yesterday—observing Martin from afar—when I saw him glance around (searching for me!); realize he didn’t know where I was; whimper, “Mommy! Mommy!”; and then become agitated when he couldn’t find me.

That’s right. My ASD son, who once upon time bolted every time I released his hand, got upset because he couldn’t see me.

I called, “Martin! Martin! I’m here!”, and waved until we made eye contact.

He smiled. I cried a little.

Soon after that, we left the playground, stopped at the bank, took the subway home, ate lunch, then went back out for organic green juice and to purchase a gift at Jacques Torres. Pretty routine stuff, except when you consider that, when you have a kid on the spectrum, everyone else’s “routine” is a victory.

And there it is. What I saw yesterday for the first time will soon be routine. Martin will keep tabs on me. Not quite like I keep tabs on him, but something more like a preschooler should do.

After all, we’re a team. Martin and I.

3 thoughts on “Mommy, Gone Missing

  1. I was grinning broadly when I read of your little miracle :):) Do you think that developed because thanks to the work you are doing with him he is now more ‘with’ you and needs to seek you out as a safe reference point in times of uncertainty?

    • That’s a good question, Zoe. Honestly, I’m not sure that this specific achievement—getting worried when he couldn’t find me on the playground—came about from any behavioral work. I guess I think it’s a skill that can’t be taught. Which means that it must be from the biomedical side, the way that Martin’s brain is rewiring itself toward neurotypicality. Does that make sense? I mean, even with RDI therapy and all the modeling we do, I wouldn’t be able to tell him, “Okay, get nervous now.” Either it happens, or it doesn’t, right? Thanks for getting me to think about this one!

  2. Pingback: Del Sur III: Someone Has Got Him | Finding My Kid

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