Last night was the best night of my life as a mother of a child with autism. Since my youngest daughter was born, it’s been a struggle to get the intimacy a mother wants from her child. She’s never been big on being hugged or touched. Many children with autism suffer from some sensory issue.
Over the past couple of years, we have noticed that Jenna has been doing so much better with sitting more closely to her family and even leaning her head on her dad’s shoulder to get some of the affection and socializing she desperately needs. Then, last night occurred.
Jenna was sitting on the couch watching a television program with me. We were both laughing about different parts of “Mrs. Doubtfire” (even though we’ve watched it a hundred times before.) As the movie came to a close, Jenna wrapped her arms tightly around me from behind and said, “Mommy, I really love hugging you.” My heart just melted, then an idea hit me hard.
What I longed for all these years was to show affection toward her, but it never dawned on me that this breakthrough wouldn’t be for her, but for me. I was selfishly taking the time I needed from my child when in fact, she didn’t want to be close that way. Rather, she wants to give hugs rather than receive them in order to experience intimacy. How dense can I be?
I love this acronym for autism, “Always Unique, Totally Interesting, Sometimes Mysterious” because more often I’ve learned that my child’s talents are much more about learning things about myself through her eyes than the other way around. We are grateful for her autism; it is a gift in our home. We have found we are always able to learn new things; be open to the possibility.