I remember one day sitting on the couch watching Tyson on his indoor swing – he was so happy. He was smiling, laughing – enjoying the world only he was in.
As I watched him, I thought, how is it that I can be so sad, yet he is so happy? How can I not see this beautiful child here in front of me and just enjoy this moment?
It can be so hard to feel the joy when your heart is filled with sadness and your mind is overwhelmed.
And my mind was completely overwhelmed. After Tyson was diagnosed, there was so many appointments to attend. Tyson started ABA five days per week and was also seeing a speech language pathologist and an occupational therapist. When I wasn’t running from one appointment to the next, I was thinking about all the things we were suppose to be working on – speech goals, OT goals, ABA goals and the list went on and on.
Right at that moment Tyson was swinging and laughing. He was happy. Why not be happy with him? If we couldn’t share many typical parent child moments, then why not share a feeling?
I think that day was the turning point for me. I vowed that no matter where this autism journey led us as a family, I needed to be present. Present in the moment.
I was definitely present for the sad moments, why not be present for the joyful ones too?
But as the day went on, that mindset would fade and I was back to remembering that list of goals in my head, along with the worries that went along with it. It was then I decided to start “Tyson’s Book of Awesomeness”. I went out and bought a pretty leather-bound book and begin to write down all the little things that Tyson did today that he could not do the day before.
Nothing profound for the typical parent – putting on socks, pointing to the juicebox he wanted, returning a glance when I said his name. Everything and anything made the list.
My very first entry said, “moved fingers for goodbye when leaving the Little Gym”. I can remember this day and how excited and emotional I was because he had waved goodbye as we left. I was hoping that none of the other parents noticed the tears welling up in my eyes.
Tyson had been going to the Little Gym for months and trying to get him to do any of the tasks was challenging to say the least. But it wasn’t just the skill orientated tasks like tumbles or jumps, it was all of it – sitting in the circle, lining up, popping those damn little bubbles, even getting a sticker at the end. It was all hard.
Tyson had never waved goodbye before and although it was not really a wave, more a motion of his fingers, it counted. Progress.
As the weeks and months went on, I continued to write in Tyson’s little book. This book captured all the little things – learning to clap hands, pointing, saying a new word, popping those little bubbles. When I was having a hard day, I would open the book and reread all the entries. It really was uplifting.
Some days it can be hard to see the progress. When your child suffers from significant delays in so many areas, your life can just revolve around lists of things to work on. And the problem is when one goal is achieved, it is just replaced by a new one. It is a never ending cycle.
However, if you can take a moment to just be present, perhaps you can start to bring back the joy in your life, one little moment at a time, just like I did.