Cameron and his little brother Tyler share a room which often means staying up well passed their bedtime talking, giggling, playing… for the most part, I don’t mind so much because it’s the most well behaved co-operative play they have all day. But eventually it gets too late and I separate them, putting one child in my bed and the other stays in their room.
Tonight, however, Cameron told me that he wanted me to stay in the room with him because he didn’t want to be alone. He said he wasn’t scared, he just didn’t want to be alone. This was the first time that he said that and while I am a firm believer in being there for him as much as I can, I also don’t want to start anything that might become a ‘habit’ or a ‘need’ in the future.
So I tucked him in, said goodnight and headed back to the living room for a quiet evening, watching a movie with Natalie (my wife).
About half way through the movie, I heard Cameron call out to me and so I went to check on him. He was on the floor, rolled up in his blanket with his head on his pillow, asking me to stay with him. This time, I did.
I laid down next to him, on my side with my arm under my head for support and my other arm down on the floor in front of me. Cameron laid down as well and kinda snuggled up to me a bit like how he does when someone asks him for a hug. He just sort of leans into you.
After a few minutes, I thought maybe my slow breathing and motionless sleep simulation might help him get to sleep but it turns out that he was thinking the same thing. He leaned back, looked at me (not being able to tell that I could see him because it was so dark) and then he nestled in closer to me with his face directly under my nose and his hand on top of my hand. He must have felt every breath I took and for him to put his hand on mine was… well, it was perfect.
So again, I laid there for a bit until eventually he kind of rolled onto his back and I started to get up to return to my wife who was waiting ever so patiently with the movie on pause all this time… and as I got to my knees, he opened his eyes and looked at me.
I put my hand on his head and said “Good night buddy, I love you” and he, still looking directly at me, said “I love you daddy” and then curled up and fell asleep.
Even if your child or children don’t have Autism, those moments are still pretty amazing but if you do have a child or children with Autism, you know just how truly extraordinary it is. For most, it’s extremely rare and for many, those moments never do happen.
I am a lucky one, they’re rare, but when they do happen, they’re perfect.