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by Gayle Nobel

Autism Asperger’s Digest | July/August 2012


I tiptoed into the room and there they were. I didn’t want to break the spell of a magical connection in progress, so I watched quietly. Sweet smells intertwined with pungent eucalyptus filled the space. She was massaging his hands, and stroke by stroke my son Kyle was drinking it in.

Clearly, this was more than just a sensory experience in process. Kyle was looking at his caregiver/therapist/friend as she administered love. Love is one of the best therapies around. What was he learning? The power of connection with another. He was strengthening his muscle tissues one fiber at a time. Another look, look away, look back, and repeat. Checking in and communicating is not something that comes easily for Kyle and for many children and adults on the spectrum.

When this connection does happen, it is a magnetic bolt of energy that has the power to fill the recipient. As an observer I could feel it, too. His looks were laser beams boring in on the target of her eyes, her soul.

There were no words exchanged. Two people were sitting in the space of silence. I am reminded again that to connect with another person is not just about the words that volley back and forth. Connection is the unspoken, invisible part of the relationship between two people. Words are the top layer, but deep connection lives in the way people intertwine in the dance that is a relationship.

I was thinking back to Kyle’s recent visit to a new doctor. Just doing his job, he peppered me with questions as he tried to gain a little understanding of Kyle. Top on his list was, “Does he talk? What are his skills?” Can he do this and that and this and that?

“No, he cannot do those things,” I say, “and he does not talk.”

I want to shout, “But he does connect and it is powerful!” And when it happens, yes, in silence, you feel it in every cell of your body. How can I even begin to explain? You have to be there. You have to sit in the silence and look past the layers on the outside. The doctor will never see Kyle in this way, because he only wants to know about the top layers. That’s ok. It’s not necessary for him to know much more.

The journey of being mom to a son with autism has been long and challenging. I wear many hats. The role of mom-ager, protector, therapist, and mommy are all part of this full-time job: parenting plus. I ride the roller coaster of triumphs and setbacks, joys and tears. Even after 28 years, layer upon layer of added obstacles appear on the path. Autism usually comes with add-ons; it is challenging to find harmony and balance in the midst of its intensity.

Is there time to sit in the silence, to savor a moment or two? It’s all about allowing—and attitude of course. I must allow myself to slow down and get quiet. No fixing necessary. Simply be with what is and I will see more of what is. Doors gradually open. Intensity subsides. Obstacles become background noise.

As I stood on the periphery of my son’s scented room and observed, I was mesmerized by the connection in progress. I heard Kyle’s heart and soul in the sound of the silence, and it seemed to envelop the entire room. Envious, yet delighted, I knew my turn would come when I was available to downshift and catch a few moments. Focusing on what is rather than what is not, there is so much to hear in the silence.

Autism may change the rhythm and tempo of the relationship dance, but it is there nonetheless. Kyle has taught me the art of savoring a silent connection. When I do, it fills me to the brim.


Gayle Nobel is the author of two books: It’s All About Attitude: Loving & Living Well with Autism and Breathe: 52 Oxygen-Rich Tools for Loving & Living Well with Autism. Visit her website at www.AutismWithAttitude.com.

Copyright © Autism Asperger’s Digest. 2012. All Rights Reserved. Distribution via print means prohibited without written permission of publisher.


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