As regular readers of this blog know, we have two children with autism who live in a group home. We have Logan and Abby over for overnight visits every other week. It is really a highlight for our family.
People often ask where they are on the spectrum. Both are on the severe end. Logan is quite intelligent but has trouble demonstrating it because of communication and other issues. We have been told that Abby has a mental age of maybe four and that affects our interaction. Even though both are nonverbal, I have had a few conversations with Logan when he forgets that he is nonverbal. Not so with Abby.
Until this past week.
Abby and I were sitting on the couch. Abby started tracing down my cheeks as if there were tears. She then said, “Sad, sad, sad.” After doing that to me, real tears began to stream down her face.
I asked her, “Abby, why are you sad?” Then I went somewhere I was not sure I wanted to go. I asked her, “Abby, are you sad because you miss Mom and Dad?” She replied, “Yeah.”
Now Logan is able to answer yes and no questions but Abby never does this. But as she looked into my eyes, I knew that she really meant what she said. She put her arms around me and pulled me in for a tight hug. When I began to pull back she brought me back in. She was not ready for this moment to end.
Abby can communicate when she wants food or a shower but this is the first time she has so clearly expressed her emotions. It was a real conversation initiated by her and understood by me.
Of course it makes me sad to know how badly she misses us. We miss her too. But the good news we were able to communicate in a way we never have before. I thank God for this experience.