Susan's Blog

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Walk With You

Don’t obey your shoulds.

I’m almost afraid to say it, for fear of it changing, but today marks the end of the second day of no outbursts from Nat. He has only been happy. We have been steadily using our daily lists to describe what we think will happen, and this seems to be working for him. Today I wrote about the fact that Max and Ned would sleep late, and that Ned would be taking a trip to the camera store after breakfast.

I realized, just before Ned was to leave, that I wanted to get some exercise. This was not on the list. I wanted to run at the Reservoir, and I thought that since Nat seemed to be so content, maybe he would want to run with me. He has not been interested in running or riding bikes for so long; his lack of interest in those things has coincided with his storminess. So I thought, since the outbursts have gone away, perhaps this also means that his interest in the outdoors will be back. It felt a little risky, though, especially given that it was not on the list.

But Nat agreed to come with me immediately. And here is a great thing I’ve discovered about getting Nat do things. When I want to get Nat to do something because I really want him to just have some fun, he almost always agrees to do it. But when I want him to do something because I feel that he should be doing something “productive,” he is inclined to resist. So I kind of knew(hoped) he’d want to run with me because of how much I wanted it to happen. And I wanted it to happen because I was feeling reconnected with him now that the lists were making him feel at peace.

I had to find him some running clothes and shoes, and surprisingly, he fit into my running shoes! Somehow we have the same size foot. We drove over to the Reservoir and I tried to get him to stretch with me. Then, as soon as we started on the gravel path, he burst ahead of me, with arms waving and silly talk going wild. He was happy.

I ran behind him, hoping he would be careful as he passed the little building that is way too close to the path, leaving you no choice but to run treacherously close to the water. He was fine. By the end of the first mile, I asked him to slow down and we walked a little bit. Then we started the second mile, and he was a lot slower this time. Soon he was behind me, but still seemed happy. At the end of the second mile, I wasn’t feeling that great, which is unusual for me when I run. It wasn’t so much that I was tired; it was a feeling of just not really enjoying the run, maybe because I’m used to running alone and with my iPod and this time I was just a bit too nervous about Nat to really get into it. I was glad to have gotten him running, and I kept thinking, “I can’t wait to tell Dad,” but I did wish it had been a little more fun for me.

He caught up with me as I started to walk. His hand touched mine and he said, “Walk with you.” I kept my hand loose, not returning his touch, because I figured he did not mean actually to hold my hand.
“Sure, let’s walk, Nat,” I said.
His hand bumped mine again. “Walk with you,” he said.

He wanted me to hold his hand. So I did. The tiniest tears started at my eyes, moved by the dear innocence and sweetness of this child of mine. I held his hand for a while, and then we climbed the hill to the car.


That was truly lovely, Susan. Such a perfect glimpse into your life and the lives of all of us who struggle to find a way to connect with our autistic children. I love that you let Nat run any darn way he wanted! He marches, and jogs, to his own drummer!

— added by Sam's mom on Saturday, June 23, 2007 at 9:34 pm

wow, that was a beautiful story.
even have tears in MY eyes.

— added by Shannon Brooke Davis on Sunday, June 24, 2007 at 12:40 am

So lovely. He has such a beautiful way of connecting with you.

How lucky you are.

And I love and am inspired by the way you share activities with all of your boys – what a warm and inclusive crew you all are.

— added by Drama Mama on Sunday, June 24, 2007 at 1:27 am

This is touching. Nat is a sweetie. I am glad that it worked out to do something off the schedule.

For the past several days charlie has been coming up to me and saying, “First (whatever we are doing) and then….” it took us a while to figure out that he was asking us to make up a home schedule for him.

I made one up last night, filled in what we had done that day, crossed it off and wrote one up for tomorrow too. He was so tickled.

We are planning to ride bikes today at the basketball courts here in town. We go around and round and round. Charlie just learned to ride with no training wheels. I used to sit on the asphalt of the court watching him until I was given a bike by a friend. Now I ride too and he calls it “The Bike Race With Mommy”.

So, today we are racing.

Have a great day with your family,

— added by Mom on Sunday, June 24, 2007 at 5:25 am

So beautiful. Thank you!

— added by Em's Mom on Sunday, June 24, 2007 at 5:05 pm