Max has finally begun imagining. For those of you with neuro-typical kids you get used to the animal or car sounds, the silly times they wear socks for gloves or parade around in mommy’s high heels. How they pretend to eat things they know aren’t real food or substitute plain square blocks for houses or trees. Most of the time you probably don’t even realize they are doing it, playing quietly with their stuffed toys or dolls while you read the paper or get caught up with a friend over the phone. You probably tell them to stop pretending at the dinner table or to put away that bed sheet because it is NOT a cape and just came out of the wash. So many of these little things go unnoticed or dismissed because they are normal.
But when it’s not there, when you try so hard only to have your child throw that stuffed doll back in your face or listen until you can hear the crickets outside waiting for the blessed sound of a rumbling truck to hum from your child’s lips, that’s when you start to worry.
At Max’s evaluation the doctor tried over and over for him accept, if not participate, in pretending a baby doll had a birthday party. She made a quite realistic cake out of playdough topped with a candle and sang to the baby, trying over and over again to get him to do that little simple thing we all take for granted every day,pretend.
But he wouldn’t or couldn’t and cried and screamed when he was presented with it. And I cried that this seemingly simple, normal thing was missing from my son. That was only in mid-November.
Six months later, Max has started to pretend. He started feeding his stuffed penguin, Ping, half a wooden peanut butter sandwich and even making eating noises. I jumped on the new skill and picked him up a play kitchen on clearance over the weekend along with a couple sets of wooden play food. Max loves it. He keeps coming back to it over and over.
It’s quite a miraculous thing, this pretending business. He’s opening up, growing, and I am so proud to see him making these steps that are gigantic for him. Having a child with Autism gives you the gift to appreciate these small advances that so many take for granted.