Thursday, January 10, 2013


Today, Trenton screamed and cried for 45 minutes. From three o'clock until three forty-five when the bus doors closed, Trenton wanted something that he was not receiving.

Was he thirsty?
Hungry? (doubtful)
Was he just tired?
Was he upset with something I did?
Was he in pain?
Was he missing someone he loves?
Was he scared?

I'll never know. And that breaks my heart.

Trenton and I are buds. Well, as much as we can be. He may not know that we're buds, but I know. And sometimes I like to think he knows it too. I'm learning how to read him. How to know what he wants. How to interpret what he's "saying." And I'm proud of that.

Maybe that's why today was so hard. At one point, I had to step away. I had to leave him crying in his tiny, yellow chair so that I could take a deep breath. Because at that moment all I wanted to do was yell, "I DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU WANT!" I couldn't help him and it hurt inside.

I left work with a headache. I thought about how hard the day was. About how hard my job is. And then I thought of Trenton: sitting on the bus, his coat hood pulled over his head, barely tall enough to look out the window, heading home.

I don't know what Trenton's home is like. I don't know his parents. Does he have siblings? Does he have his own room? A favorite toy? How does his family respond to him? Does he ever go to the grocery store? What does he think about? I wonder if he can sleep through the night. If he has needs that go unmet because he knows he couldn't communicate them if he tried.

Trenton takes autism with him everywhere. The thought patterns. The random vocal outbursts. The flapping motion of his hands. The lack of eye contact. The confusion.

I only encounter autism at work for a few hours a day. Poor me.

Everyday my kiddos bring their very best. They are operating at 100% on a daily basis, even if their 100% was different yesterday.  This is the best they can do and it's teaching me a lot.

I'm learning that the world is a hard place to have autism.
I'm learning not to talk as often or so loud or gesture so much. Simple is best.
I'm learning that if I give a direction with a smile, the direction often gets followed.
I'm learning to walk at a slower pace.
And to expect to back track.
Or detour.
Or find shoes that we somehow lost along the way.
I'm learning that Trenton only eats corn off the cob.
That he doesn't like it when I sing.
And he loves to be picked up and spun in circles.
I'm learning that Devon observes and imitates almost mechanically.
That he knows his schedule better than I do.
And that he likes things that go "crash".
I'm learning that small victories deserve a tickle.
That there's always another way to see things.
And that one of the greatest feelings in the world is a tiny, trusting hand in mine.


kylie said...

This one made me cry.

Thank you for being a bright, consistent, thoughtful, caring light in their lives. I know this isn't the job you imagined, but you are shaping and loving these little precious souls in a beautiful, lasting way and I'm so proud of you.