"Isaac, let's come up with some creative words." I shift in my seat next to him on the bench at the kitchen table, while Isaac forcefully lays his head on the table. Working on writing and using adjectives is a challenge.
It has taken a good hour to get homework into a rhythm, and things have started slide off tempo.
Then again, Isaac always has marched to the beat of his own drum.
"This is too hard." He says. In my mind, I have to agree. Lately, Isaac's focus and body control has been a struggle more than ever before. I know he is growing: Physically, he is blowing by the hand-me-downs I had saved from when Ethan was his age. I know that amazing brain of his is struggling to keep up.
How do I explain...
Have you ever tried singing along to a song that had an awkward cadence? Those songs that have time signatures that seem to be so complex, you struggle enjoy them because you can't grasp their meter? Those songs where you start singing along and right when you feel you have the beat, it shifts. You're left humming something unfamiliar.
This can be life with Autism.
"Let's come up with those creative words, okay?" I help Isaac bring his focus back to his homework assignment.
Eventually, we finished. His paper was full of words like "fluffy," "giant", "soft", "stinky," and "interesting." When we were putting his paper in his homework folder, he asked, "Mom, so what does interesting mean?" "Well...it means...exciting. It gets your attention and keeps you focused."
Isaac nodded. "Like my cars?" His eyes flitted to the bin of Hot Wheels that he keeps in the kitchen.
"Yes, like those." Before I could finish, he was making race car noises and running to the bin.
I don't write music, and I barely read it. I don't know much about epic symphonies or movements, but I do live with one.
Isaac has never been intrigued with slow songs. He doesn't have a tempo
for slow. He is either full speed or complete stop, and working with
him on how to self-regulate so he can find a happy medium has been the
hardest thing I have ever done. And it has gotten harder.
Sitting in a small office at Isaac's school yesterday, I listened as his teachers and advocates discussed Isaac's life, personality, his skills, and his distractions. I added my concerns and my requests. Our yearly IEP session was one that reminded me both of how much progress Isaac has made, but also how much work he will need to accomplish. I am always filled with hope and dread, one never overtaking the other as boxes are checked, goals are enumerated, and testing requirements are named. I think every parent with a child on the spectrum gets that feeling.
Being high-functioning means Isaac can fit in, yet, if I am being honest, he won't truly. In a world of smooth cadence and expected rhythms, he will always have a unique time signature. Unique is interesting...but it isn't easy.
He is the most complex, beautiful song I have ever tried to sing along to. Even if I don't know the words...
I will continue to hum along. Even when the beat drops and I can't keep up, I hum along. Even if the drummer can't find the rhythm, I hum along. Quietly, reassuringly, humming: Patiently, until we pick up the cadence again.