He runs to make his mind still, to organize himself and to get rid of the noise from this loud, confusing world. The more he's moved, the more he's introduced patterns and rhythm into his routine. Laps around the house are a daily ritual. He's made it more complex as he's developed, but the basics are the same. There is a pattern of movement -- specific foot patterns based on whatever song or chant he chooses to accompany the run, and he can not be stopped until he is ready to be.

This is James, and this is our story.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Real Breakthrough at the Beach

When I first started writing this blog about our journey back in April,  I thought I would do a little autism awareness project and get some people to understand kids like James (and their families) a little bit better.  I never expected it to become so important to me.  I've found that telling our story is both empowering and healing, and I feel a million times better about myself as both a parent and a person since I've started writing.

I wonder if James discovered the same thing about the power of communication. 

Last week James and I had our most meaningful conversation ever, and I posted about how proud I was of him to be able to communicate his feelings to me for the first time (A Wave of Words, An Ocean of Meaning).  Now understanding why he was so unhappy at the beach, I was perfectly content to plan future vacations near pools.

Then last Friday we were invited to spend the day with friends on the Cape.  Hurricane Irene was on her way up, and I knew the waves were going to be rough, so I asked if we could go to a bayside beach.  When we got there and I saw how excited her kids were to go to a beach with waves, I reluctantly agreed, expecting the day to be a long one.

It was windy and hazy.  The waves were taller than James.  Hanging out just 30 yards off shore were the two most enormous seals I've ever seen.  People were talking about sharks, and the Coast Guard had both a boat and helicopter scanning the surf.

Standing no more than ankle deep in the water, James' gripped my hand so hard it hurt.  I envisioned how the rest of the day was going to go, and sighed. 

An hour later, I once again experienced the healing and empowerment that can come with telling one's story. 

This was what I saw. I'll never forget how beautiful that moment was.
(look for James in the orange shirt.  Johnny is in yellow).

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