A long time ago, when L was just a little guy, I thought that when he covered his face with his hands and stared through his fingers at the floor that he was being defiant. I thought that when he said he didn’t know his brother was angry and wanted him to stop doing something that he was lying. I thought that when he said “I can’t” he was being lazy.
I didn’t know that his hands on his face peering through his fingers was a coping mechanism he was using, and would use into his teens (and might well use into adulthood- we’ll have to wait and see!), when he was feeling overloaded and nearly ready to meltdown.
I didn’t know that L actually can’t read peoples body language the way I do, and that he really didn’t know his brother was angry until it was too late.
I didn’t know that when he said “I can’t”, it was his way of trying to say that he is having trouble and wants help, but is too frustrated or worried or tired to be able to form a more explanatory sentence.
I didn’t know about any of those things until after L was identified as Autistic when he was 8 years old. That was 8 years ago and I’ve learned a lot since then. L has taught me a lot.
He has taught me to slow down and read the signals better.
He has taught me to not assume.
He has taught me that he is hardworking, persistent and trustworthy and that if I believe in him it gives him the support he needs to push through his struggles and achieve over and above what people expect of him.
He has taught me that accepting him just as he is, and not expecting him to change to suit my preference, allows him grow up to be an amazing young man- smart, capable, compassionate and funny.
I am glad he is such a good teacher, and that I got over myself in time to learn some lessons before I hurt him too badly.
I just hope he will keep on teaching me as we discover more things together.