I know that many find the puzzle piece icon as a representative symbol for autism inappropriate, if not offensive. Autistic people are not puzzles. We are all complex humans.
But as the parent of a child who struggles with communication, I do spend a lot of time piecing together clues to figure out what is going on with Moe.
Last week, Moe was taking his mid-dinner break (he often eats in two shifts) and was in his room, quietly swinging in his HugglePod. All of a sudden, he started crying. This was not his bored/hungry/generally upset whine; this was the "I'm hurt" cry.
I ran to his room.
Moe was still in his swing, bawling. He looked fine. I tried to comfort him by squeezing his feet and knees, which he usually enjoys, and he didn't want that. He made his body very stiff and gritted his teeth. I thought perhaps he was constipated or had a stomach ache, so I put him on the rug, and pushed his knees up, but that didn't help. He was still really crying hard.
I started to get nervous. The last time he cried like this was when he split his forehead open, but he clearly wasn't bleeding. Was it his appendix? I tried feeling around his lower abdomen, but I couldn't remember what side your appendix is on, let alone what I was feeling for.
I took Moe to the living room to see if he would calm down in front of the TV. I figured it would distract him from something minor but not something major. He calmed for a minute but started up again. I was getting really nervous. I called Jeff who was on his way home. I decided that if Moe was still crying hard by the time Jeff got home, I would take Moe to urgent care. It had been about twenty minutes by then and he was clearly in pain.
I sat on the floor with Moe. The TV was still on and Moe slowly started to relax. He sat on my lap and let me cuddle him. As we were sitting there Moe started rubbing his head a little. He wasn't bleeding or anything. Maybe a headache? He rubbed the same spot, so I ran my hand where he did. Sure enough, there was a bump. He must have bumped his head while swinging.
Of course, by the time Jeff got home, Moe was calm and nicely snuggled in my lap. This always happens: I call Jeff in a panic or frustrated mess, and by the time he gets home, all is calm and wonderful. I'd like to think this is a testament to my superior parenting skills but really most things just work themselves out.
Moe's behavior (crying) wasn't a puzzle to him. He knew he had bumped his head. But it certainly was a puzzle to me. Now if only he'd rubbed his head first, I might not have been so worried.
But that would have been too easy.
Have you voted for my Notes and Words Essay yet? It's easy! Just click over to this Facebook link, and "like."