The Sweetest Boy

IMG_1260I don’t know a lot about other autistic children. Hell, I often feel like I have the only nonverbal autistic child in the world. Which I know can’t be true. But it sure feels that way.

When I think about a child having a disorder that affects socialization and language my logical (or ignorant) side always assumed they wouldn’t be sweet. Or crave love and affection.

But that is the opposite of Cooper.

Cooper is so unbelievably sweet. This kid physically doesn’t know how to be mean. Or how to hit. He would never pinch or scratch. He is now just learning how to push…at age 4.

If a child was to take his toy he would just cry. I’ve watched Sawyer stand in front of the TV and block Cooper’s view and that maybe warranted a light shove. But that would be the worst of it. Cooper would just adjust his view.

When it comes to discipline…even though we rarely ever need to discipline Cooper, he just needs a stern talking too. And then he cries. And the consoling lasts longer than the disciplining.

It’s a whole new level of innocence for me. I’ve never seen anything like it.

He loves snuggling and hugs and kisses more than any child I know. His teachers comment weekly on his love of holding hands. And for the longest time if you tried to get Cooper to vocalize he would just kiss you. And his new favorite thing to do is wave to people. As you can imagine this kid is loved.

I have seen this side of Cooper for quite some time and I’ve often wondered if it is his personality or autism. The line is quite muddled.

We brought the boys into a gas station last week. Jamie and I each held a child’s hand as we picked up a few things. Eventually we let the boys wander under a watchful eye. Sawyer, my little bull in a china shop, saw a display rack of chips. He grabbed 4 bags. And then candy. And then plastic toys. And so on. He started babbling about how he wanted all of it and he loved treats and so on. It was adorable. Every time he grabbed a new piece of candy he dropped something already in his arms.

And then I looked at Cooper. He saw Cheetos…his favorite food. He grabbed one bag and smiled the biggest smile. He squealed in delight, ran to me, and signed ‘eat, please.’

And that was that.

Cooper would never need more than one bag of chips. The thought would never occur to him. He is just so unbelievably sweet. He is not greedy and possessions don’t matter to him.

Now there is a downside to this. There is no motivating him with toys or food. Gifts don’t matter. Opening presents at Christmas or Birthdays is non existent. Bribing doesn’t matter. There is no going out and doing something special with Cooper because he doesn’t ‘get’ it.

I think about situations all the time. We just moved into a new house. I would love to have Cooper pick out decorations or bedding for his room. It wouldn’t matter though. He simply doesn’t care.

So, on one hand, I have the sweetest child in the world, and on the other hand, I can’t reach him. He needs to be near me, to feel me, to love me in his own way. And I spend hours wondering if he is happy. And I wish I could show him there is so much more to life.

It keeps me up at night.

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5 thoughts on “The Sweetest Boy

  1. It is hard to tell what is autism and what is natural personality. My son is slightly verbal, but he will not allow you to touch him…I’ve had one hug in four years. He will not kiss me or hold my hand or sit with me. I have chalked this up to autism, because I think most typical children are affectionate, or can least tolerate touch. I suspect Coop’s sweetness and affection might be his natural personality. Looks like he got hit harder in the verbal department, but was thankfull spared in some other areas. Some kids get whalloped in all areas.

    My boy is quite challenging in personality, mostly because he is absolutely mired in rigidity. He’s never been described as sweet or affectionate by anyone…it makes me cry.

  2. I agree with Ain’t no Shrinking Violet. It is hard to tell at this age if it is the autism or his natural personality. I am inclined to think it is his natural personality. He genuinely seems interested in relating to people but just can’t communicate it the way you would expect.

    Also, don’t give up hope on the gifts or surprises. He isn’t aloof; he just doesn’t understand it yet. I on the other hand use gifts to express my feelings toward others. Make a big deal out of anything he gives you whether it is a dandelion or flower. He will eventually associate gifts with positive feelings.

  3. My ASD son is verbal but he has a whole world inside of him I only wish I knew what it contains. His anxiety blocks so much. Autism is just part of who they are. They are still individuals like anyone else and thus personality will shine through. Sending you hugs.

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