Displays of Affection
I am often grateful that although my son has high-functioning Autism, he is able to display and receive affection. It comes in short spurts. A hug or a kiss may not last long, but each gesture means so much to me, especially since most Autistic people cannot stand to be touched or have anyone near them..
When he is feeling very affectionate, he may take the time to kiss my whole face. He starts with the forehead and kisses every part of my head, including my eyes and my hair.
This indicates the progress he has made in the past two years. Back then, he couldn’t stand to have another person in his personal space. An unexpected touch could send him into a fit. He would scream or strike out at the other person.
He is not yet, and may never be, the sort of person who can cuddle for long periods of time on a regular basis. We have come to accept that, and to be grateful that we can touch him at all.
Sometimes, I will walk past him and ruffle his hair in a loving manner. He might look up and smile, he might not acknowledge me at all, or he might hit me lightly.
If he expects or has initiated the touch, he handles it well. My husband will often tease him by saying, “Here comes the Kissing Bandit.” He will then cover Cameron’s face with kisses, while Cameron giggles with joy. If my husband approaches without warning, he may be just as likely to get slugged.
At times, Cameron will come out of his fantasy world long enough to say something like, “I love you, mommy. I will never let anything happen to you.” This touches my heart and brings tears to my eyes.
Two years ago, he had little to no reality conversation. He couldn’t stand much touch. We were struggling to keep him in this world.
We have worked hard to gain the progress that we have made. I started by sitting on the opposite end of the kitchen bench from where he sat. I gradually moved closer. I did not do it all in one day. Every time I sat there, I sat a little closer than I had the time before. If he had a negative reaction, I would say something like, “I’m not going to touch you or your toys unless you say it’s okay.”
His tolerance grew with each attempt, until he had progressed to allowing me to sit right next to him. Touching his toys was another matter entirely.
We have come far in the past few years. We have grown from a family that was working mainly on instinct (which proved to be right on the mark), to one that is also armed with research and an Autism Support classroom, all of which have caused his progress to move along much quicker. We are all a work in progress, but we are getting there.