John spoke to his daddy tonight. It almost feels like I dreamed it, but he did so several times and there were witnesses. They faced each other on the couch, one of those doodlepro books — The Backyardigans, I think — between them. Dad started to randomly draw shapes while John flipped through the book part. All the sudden, John paused to watch and said “Triangle.” We looked at each other, astounded. Erase the pad, try another shape. “Diamond.” Did we imagine it? “Rectangle.” Erase. “Circle.” “Square.”
Let’s try numbers: 1, 2. “One, two.” Erase: 3, 4. “Three, four.” Erase: 5, 6, 7. “Five, six, seven.”
Letters of the alphabet? “A. B. C.” Out of sequence? “P. G. X.”
Then, as he often does, John placed his hand over his daddy’s and we thought he would motion him to stop, or impatiently pull his finger. But instead John guided his dad to draw a circle. It wasn’t a perfect circle, and he said “oval.” Then he added two dots for eyes and a smiley face followed by two semi-circles for ears.
“Monkey!” he said, laughing. He lifted his eyes, looked directly at his dad, and repeated “MONKEY!”
Oh, the sound of his voice! So similar to Sam but yet uniquely his own. He started uncertain at first — quiet and low, a little monotone. But as he continued, his voice was like a warm breeze, stretching and reaching for us.
I cry a lot.
The pride on his face was so similar to when he slept through the night in his big boy bed. I am struck, over and over, by how much I don’t know, that we don’t know, about autism. How many times has he wanted to say something but was unable to form the words? How many times has he given up with frustration? And how many times have I not seen him struggle?
Because tonight it is obvious to me that he longs to connect with us. It is obvious to me that there is so much going on in there.