One of the first things that one learns as the parent of a child with autism is that all behavior is communication. There is no action that doesn’t serve a purpose. It may be to express frustration; it may be to fulfill a sensory need; it may be to ask for help. It may be to get our attention and it may be to escape a situation that isn’t working. But no matter what, every single thing we do communicates something.
As parents of kids who in many cases have no other means of expressing themselves than through their actions, we spend an awful lot of time playing detective – watching the patterns, searching for clues and ultimately trying desperately to figure out what it is that our children need. For so long I referred to myself as Encyclopedia Brown – constantly trying to crack the case of What Brooke Is Trying To Tell Me.
In the second part of the Dear You letter yesterday, I told you that one of the reasons you rock is because you use what you’ve learned as the parent of a special needs child in every other aspect of your life. Well, so do I. In this case, what I’ve learned is that behavior is communication for EVERYBODY. For me, for my husband, for my NT kid, for my co-workers, for the guy at Starbucks and hell, even my darn dogs. ESPECIALLY my darn dogs.
Sometimes their motivation remains a mystery. I’ll never know if Lucy chewed Katie’s school project beyond recognition because she wanted attention or simply because she really needed to chew something and it was just too tempting to leave be.
But sometimes, it’s a little simpler.
In fact, sometimes, it’s crystal clear.
Winston, an hour before dinner