Something So Simple

Filed Under (Adam, Transitions) by Estee on 13-09-2010

From the time Adam came into the world, he could shift my mood. His distress became mine, his happines set me aglow. I remember when he cried and my stomach clenched. I thought it was because I was (and am) a first-time mother. I physically reacted to Adam’s every cry as if I was to dive right in and save him.

Adam is older now. Manifestions of discomfort are different. He has just started a new school and much like it was when he moved with me into our new home, his body jerks as if there is a word behind each abrupt movement. When Adam gets anxious, he can speak less. Instead I get a twitch, a jump and maybe an um hmm kind of grunt. We thought, a few months ago, that Adam was having seizures. Now that we know (via an EEG) that he is not having them, and I am significantly calmer than before. I remember that the twitching passed and so I expect they will again. It seems that with Adam, there are always many steps back before he takes another leap forward.

Yet, even in knowing this, with every grunt, I can’t help feel the exact same way I did when Adam was born. It feels like that early maternal instinct, perhaps. I feel I have to be there to help him, to soothe him. The issue is, it’s getting less possible for me to do it the way I once did.

Adam cannot be comforted by the things that soothed him when he was an infant. All I can do is practice being not only a calm parent, but one who can teach him how to manage himself in these times of stress. For any parent, I imagine “being a calm parent,” takes practice. On those sleepless nights, I’ve managed to teach Adam to read alone quietly in his room and he seems content there. I am trying to teach him to go to the equipment he has for squishing and climbing when he needs this, and he can go on walks for up to three hours to calm his nervous system. While he can’t do those walks on his own yet, at least there are some outlets he has that are self-empowering. Lots of physical activity can also be extremely calming.

Even though I know Adam will be okay in a couple of weeks, and his words and phrases may come back even stronger than before, I just can’t seem to help myself from feeling his discomfort. I simply try not to let in infiltrate everything and the way I interact with him. Yet I yearn for a smile and a giggle during these times.

It is no wonder then, as I walked in the door today, that Adam changed my mood in an instant with a smile. I got him ready for bed, read him a couple of books and he turned over angelically onto his pillow to go to sleep. As I turned out the light, he grabbed my arm to put it around his small body and nestled his soft head in the crook of my neck.

I understood his message loud and clear this evening. Mommy, I need you. Stay with me, I imagine he would say if he had the words to say it.

Something so simple helps me understand everything.


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About Me


I’m a PhD candidate at York University, Critical Disability Studies, with a multi-disciplinary background in the arts as a curator and writer. I am the Founder of The Autism Acceptance Project (, and an enamoured mother of my only son who lives with the autism label. I like to write about our journey, critical issues regarding autism in the area of human rights, law, and social justice, as well as reflexive practices in (auto)ethnographic writing about autism.