Sometimes, the moments are small, these peculiar-to-autism moments.
The moment when my son has to meet with the Principal, his teacher and one of the support staff at his school to apologize for something he had done is a small moment. He could share what he had done wrong to merit the meeting but then…
He had to say he was sorry. And he had to look his teacher in the eye.
It’s a hard thing, for many people on the autism spectrum.
Still, he turned in the chair and lifted his gaze up, then up higher, his whole face reluctant and uncomfortable as he said, “I’m sorry. I won’t do that again.”
Then his eyes dropped and he slumped forward over the table, supporting his head with his fist.
As a mom, half of me was strained toward him in silent support, knowing this was so hard for him and wishing he could have just mumbled his form-fitting apology (for we all knew, in that meeting, that his “I’ll never do it again” was sincere but would be forgotten) from the psychological safety of his downcast face. But the other half of me was proud that he did in fact look his teacher in the eye.
She’s a wonderful teacher and she deserved the courtesy and the effort.
And for my son? He was then able to look up – over everyone’s head to the wall – and tell them that he finished his STEM Fair project.
His mom needed him to have a proud moment on which to end the meeting.
Because I’m just like that.