November 2, 2011

Seeing is Believing

Posted in Life's Little Moments, My Take on Autism tagged , , , , , at 9:33 am by autismmommytherapist

“No no no no no no NO!!!” screams my youngest as he thrashes about in my lap, absolutely determined to avoid the absolutely innocuous eye drops the sweet ophthamologist’s assistant is trying to splash on his baby blues. Zach is a complete mess, and although I can feel a modicum of sympathy for the child, mostly I am annoyed. We’ve talked about this part of the exam for weeks. We wrote a damn social story about the impending experience, complete with illustrations. Hell, I even let him pretend to flood my own sockets, a decision I regretted immediately as he almost blinded me with his ministrations  This child has even seen me hydrate his big brother’s orbs on numerous occasions, because suntan lotion seems to migrate unerringly to Justin’s eyes no matter how careful I am in application. In short, this child has been exceedingly well-prepared for the day’s events.

And after having my left cheekbone permanently flattened from his squirming, I am completely over his angst.

I search deep, deep inside for any remnants of “teacher genius” I might summon for the situation, as the bribes I’ve trotted out over the last five minutes are clearly not the answer, and I stumble upon an idea. I ask the technician to stop for a moment, and push my son gently back from my now sweaty torso. He continues to flail as I say to him in “teacher voice” that if he doesn’t calm down and take the eye drops, the doctor won’t be able to see if there are any ghosts and goblins floating in his sockets.

That gets him.

He sits upright and really looks at me, and asks “she has to see if I have spooky eyes?” and I respond with my convincing lie, “absolutely”. He promptly turns his body around, lays back and copies his brother’s traditional pose, and says “okay, just one time”. I look up at the assistant and tell her she has about a five second window before he changes his mind, and she deftly inserts the liquid dilator, and tells us the doctor will be back in fifteen minutes. He immediately shimmies off my lap to wreak havoc with her equipment, and I hustle him outside to the waiting area, where he remains completely competent to play with his toys. The ophthalmologist has told us she believes he has a mild astigmatism in his right eye, thus the required dilation to confirm it. He will probably require glasses for five or six years just like his mother did, after which he will most likely see perfectly fine.

Until middle age that is, a reality which will one day hunt him down too.

I watch him manipulate beads on a giant wire as we kill a quarter hour, grateful that there’s a lovely bounty of toys in this office to keep him occupied. He is telling himself a story as he is wont to do, with occasional detours into the main waiting area to introduce himself to the other patients. They find Zach charming (as does his mother), but eventually he tires of making friends, and returns to construct a castle out of colorful wooden blocks. I’m happy he’ll be sporting frames soon, particularly as glasses are apparently the “in thing” in pre-school these days. I am content that over time, he will see things more clearly.

Because these days, I see him very clearly as well.

My boy, who for years began every day with a tantrum over my need for his consciousness, now snuggles into my lap with joy, greeting the sun with a yawn and compliance. We’ve expanded our food repertoire from five items to four times as that amount, including those once-dreaded carrots that are now dutifully ingested daily. I’ve recently watched my son comfort a fallen friend on the playground, rather than jumping over his prostrate body to get to his next destination. I’ve thrilled to hear Zach’s conversation-starters branching out from the latest shenanigans of the Transformers to include interrogatives such as “How are you today?”, usually without prompting.

I’ve had the privilege of witnessing him truly begin to enjoy his life.

I see this child, really see him now, because for so long we were caught up in the daily drama of some trauma occurring seemingly every five minutes, and I had neither the time, nor the energy, to notice the changes. My youngest boy is sweet. He is unfailingly kind. Zach has grown into a clever, quick child. He also remains, at times, an obstinate pain-in-the-butt.

At least he comes by it honestly.

Our wait concludes, and he runs back to the exam room with me trying (and failing) to keep up with him. He slides willingly into the “cool chair” and asks our doctor if there might be witches in there too, and she kindly obliges us with an “of course”. The hunt for spookies ensues, Zach remaining unnaturally still, me allowing myself to relax for a precious minute. Soon enough he’ll be deemed “spook-free”, and we’ll move on to select frames flattering to his face. Within a week he will be wearing a new plastic contraption, one which will soon encase the lenses permitting him a far clearer view. Hopefully, he’ll regard a world which always appreciates him as much as I do.

And whether he’s wearing these glasses or not, I hope he always knows his mother sees him.



  1. M said,

    He really has blossomed. He’s becoming so empathetic & really seeks the other kids out @ music & movement class.

    It brightens up my glimmer of hope I have for Will that still waxes & wanes depending on how sleep deprived I am & how behavioral he is lately. You guys are doing a wonderful job with them both & it’s written all over their faces each time we see them. 🙂 Nicely done!

  2. Jina said,

    So he hasn’t asked for contact lenses like my child?

  3. Misifusa said,

    Wow…you continue to impress me with your expertise! Congrats!

  4. Kathy said,

    “Spooky eyes!” I love that. Glad things worked out. I haven’t seen Zach in years. He sounds so sweet!

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