It is mentioned over and over again that one of the amazing characteristics of ASD children (and adults) is their true nature to latch onto a topic or hobby and emerge themselves in it becoming a subject matter expert. Sometimes they even mature into self taught masters of a skill or talent. Everyone needs to start somewhere. We, as parents, can choose to simply admire their capabilities or engage them in them. Personally, there has been a time with each child that I find it hard to relate to them on a personal and most basic level. I admit, I still have this issue with Diva. With Bug, he is a boy, and it was harder for me to relate to him based on gender and the ASD. With Diva, it is the ASD and just her. I struggle every day to figure out a way to connect with her. So I took a step back and looked at what I did to forge a bond, that I felt should have been natural, but was forced with Bug.
I remember watching him one day. I wanted to sit next to him so bad and play what he was playing. I wanted to talk to him about dragons and ninjas and simply have a conversation with him. However, ever time I walked near him and his playing field, he would yell at me and tell me to go away. He wanted nothing to do with me; I didn’t interest him. And due to the ASD, I never would. But I love him. I wanted to be accepted into his world. So I sat and thought. Until I realized I needed to interest him. I didn’t need him to need me, I needed him to want me. I think as parents we all want that feeling of being wanted. You need air to survive, but you want the things that make you happiest in life. I needed my son to want me. So, I found a way into his world.
Last week, Diva came into our den and sat next to me staring at my hands as I did some cross stitching and then some hand embroidery work. She sat and sat, watching my hands move the needle and floss in and out. Eventually, she ran off. A little while later she came back to show me something. She had found the crayons and paper and drew, what to her, was a copy of the project I was working on. So then I knew a way into her world.
Like her mama, she loves arts and crafts. She draws dozens of pictures every day, staples stickers to every flat surface she can find (thank you Goo Gone!) and will literally fall apart if she sees one of her masterpieces fall into the trash. The next day I went to Wal-Mart and walked into the joke of a craft section. Picked up supplies and brought them home. Super Bowl Sunday we sat down on the couch in the den together and worked on her first cross stitch. It wasn’t easy, but she did a few stitches. As soon as I saw her getting frustrated, I told her to go watch TV for a minute. So off and on we worked on a few stitches at a time. At this rate I think we might finish the one simple heart in a year. However, everyday since she has asked to work on it; if only for a few minutes and stitches at a time.