I gave birth to my twins and youngest via c-section. As typical, an epidural anesthesia was given and I had no sensation of my body, from waist down, for the rest of the day. “This is how it must feel like to be paralyzed,” I thought. I pinched my leg, and it felt like I was pinching a giant ham, something separate from my own body. I lifted and dropped my leg with my hands and no sensation. As the hours passed, I kept pinching, poking, dropping, hitting my legs just to see how the sensation changes as the anesthesia wore off. After every hour, the sensation changed which got me to continue pinching, poking, dropping and hitting my legs until I could finally feel them completely. Then it wasn’t fun anymore. Everything was just back to normal.
I was recalling all that as I sat next to Nathan in the son-rise room, “joining” him as he ismed (autistic, repetitive behavior). He was feeling the sensation of the pages of his book as he flipped it across his fingers. “Joining” is the son-rise’s unique way of showing a child with autism that he is loved and accepted no matter what crazy, repetitious, seemingly random behaviors he exhibits. It is also the most powerful tool parents can use to really get into their child’s world and understand how they feel…as I was doing earlier. Just as I couldn’t feel my legs because of anesthesia, Nathan probably cannot feel his extremities well because of his cerebral palsy and/or gut issues. Back at the hospital, I “ismed” on my leg trying understand the mystery of anesthesia and nerve connections. Nathan also isms to try to get a better understanding of his sense of touch. When he isms he is only trying his best to cope considering he has problems with nerve connections.
Conventional therapy tells the child to stop isming because the behavior looks “different”. Son-rise finds out why the child needs to ism. And the more they are allowed to ism, the more they are able to heal themselves until they do not need to ism anymore.
Another thought entered my mind. As I sat isming away, my mind could really fly into a parallel universe and totally block out the person in front of me. Exactly what what kids with autism do. I finally snapped out of it and realized that Nathan had already put his ismy book down and was now looking straight at me. Once again, “joining” has accomplished what it usually does: gets the attention of the child who normally will just stay in their own world. When Nathan looked at me, it was as if he said, “Thanks for understanding me and speaking my language, now I’m ready to come out of my world and enter yours.” He gave me his full attention and allowed me to finish reading the rest of my book for him.
I love son-rise for giving me these moments to reflect and truly understand my child.