The Pause

For two or so years, we’ve been stating what we are thankful for every Friday evening family worship time. For some months, both twins kept quiet, though Oreneile would beam at us when her name would be called. Her twin is the stereotypical autistic that articles (by ‘experts’ who aren’t autistic) like to use to define autism. She’d be playing with a toy and not look up at her name. We would say her name, get no reaction to her name, then pause so she has a chance to participate , before moving onto the next child.

A few months ago, Oreneile started answering when it’s her turn. She’d sit up straight, smile, and launch into gibberish with great seriousness. It has the same rhythm and cadence as speech, and she’d end with an emphasised ‘word’ to conclude. Sometimes with arms folded as of giving us great pearls of wisdom. And we all dutifully thank her for her contribution 😂 and praise her for sharing what she’s thankful for.

She does speak without using gibberish. But because she hears such long sentences, she does THAT. When she wants to pray, she makes me say short sentences which she then copies as we go along.

But as for her sister, we pause, then move on. Which I find amazing that her dad does that at least. I saw complaints from non-speaking autistic adults regarding how non-speaking children don’t get spoken to enough. I can understand it. You speak, get a response, and respond to the response. But if the child isn’t looking at you, doesn’t acknowledge that you spoke, sometimes walks away even as you speak, it doesn’t exactly lead to much speech! I know my children struggle and I do talk to her extremely intentionally and using short sentences.

Think about it. Our biggest interaction this week was NOT verbal. I knelt down next to Oreratile and making sure I did NOT force eye contact, nuzzled her cheek, telling her I love her.

She gently smashed her cheek back into my mouth, so I hummed into her cheek. She moved her face away, then brought her cheek back for some loving. Doing this twice more. Unlike her twin who volunteers the words, “I love you” to us, she didn’t say a word. But she didn’t have to. That cheek that kept coming to me to be kissed said it all.

Another day, I again knelt next to her and she put her head on my shoulder for a hug. Did it repeatedly. No words. None needed. And as I posted yesterday, she held my hand as we prayed.❤️ So yes, it’s rare for others to respect their autistics enough to treat them like everybody else.

Yesterday was Friday. We sat during family worship and each person was named and asked what they are thankful for. Naynay did her speech with great satisfaction and we obliged with our enthusiastic response.🙂

Ratie’s name was called and she was asked the same question. This time during the pause, her eyes looked up from her bead toy! We were silent. Shocked. All looking at her, even her fellow two year old sister. No need for a planned pause. We were amazed.

Then she SAID, “Dadada.”

She answered!!!😭😭😭

This is one thing adult autistics like to emphasise. Just because there is no speech doesn’t mean there’s no thinking. Just because there’s no eye contact doesn’t mean there’s no attention to what’s being said.

Of course, as we do for her twin, we did for her. She got positive (and excited) feedback.

Like the word, “Mommy” which has not appeared in months, I don’t know if she will verbally take part again. But oh, how precious yesterday was for my little whirlwind!

Once again, my heart is full.

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