“What is your name?”
“I like pizza.” He makes this declaration with a smile on his face. My stomach churns as we high five over the answer.
Multiple books, poems and songs memorized perfectly, but he can’t say his name when asked.
Of course, LittleOne knows his name. But he can’t produce it on demand.
Knowing and saying are worlds apart. In that abyss between what he knows and what he articulates lies my darkest fears.
Every time we practice I picture an officer asking, “What’s your name? Who’s your Mommy?” And getting, “I like pizza.” In a crisis how does he get help? Will they even realize he’s not joking? I doubt it. He looks “normal”, or so I’ve been told a lot. If he’s not stimming he passes for neurotypical, but I’m certain in an emergency he is bound to give himself away as clearly autistic.
Every time we pass an officer in uniform I make him shake their hand and say hello, brainwashing him with that habit in case he ever needs help. Maybe he’ll instinctively speak to officers if we’re ever separated or in an accident. Maybe he’ll get an officer who has an autistic in their life who can pull something out of him or can sort through scripts to hear what he’s meaning when he repeats phrases from Thomas or books.
I pray in an emergency he gets someone who at least watches “The Good Doctor. ”
That’s it. At this point I pray for a TV show to impart enough common knowledge to save my son if I can’t.
To be honest I’m terrified. All day, every day I fear for his safety. I fear for his lack of fear. I fear his lack of awareness. I fear his lack of effective communication.
So we practice… “What’s your name?” “I like pizza.” Not even close. High five.
“What’s my name?” “My name is Mommy and I like coffee.” Not bad. Another high five.
I pray we reach a point he can speak for himself himself. In the meantime, I lay awake trying to make up catchy rhymes to remember the important stuff.