This past week, Robyn and I watched the inspirational movie, Temple Grandin staring Clair Danes and speaking for myself, I was amazed by the portrayal of Ms. Grandin in the subtle mannerisms, the panic attacks and those little things that led to Ms. Danes winning her awards for her role. I spotted a few things that I didn’t expect to, such as the way that Temple would tuck her thumbs in a balled fist, something that our boy has done time and time again.
Then it hit me; we get a hug!
As I research autism and talk to other families of autism, I have found that the most simple act that we can take for granted, a hug, is something that many autistics are simply unable to do due to their heightened sensory over stimulation. I read articles talking about how a simple hug can send an autistic child into meltdown; I even read a post on our Facebook page from a father who relayed a family member’s realization saying, “I’ll never force your son to hug me ever again!!!” If you have seen the movie or read any of Ms. Grandin’s books, a hug is something that was tough for her. It was something that made her extremely uncomfortable. At one point in the movie, someone makes a motion to hug her which she replies, “I can’t do that” with a frightened look upon her face. Can you imagine not being able to hug your child? I simply cannot.
This is where I have realized how fortunate we are. Kian will give us hugs; of course it is on his terms. There are times when during the height of his overload, we’ve attempted a hug and we simply get a rigid, unattached return. There are times when I have felt rejected by this, even knowing it’s just who he is and I have to accept that, but my realization is simply this, I cannot imagine not getting the hugs when I can. So I leave you with a challenge, the next time your autistic child, family member or friend gives you a hug, realize that it may be the best gift they may ever give you and never take it for granted.