He knew what it was as soon as he saw it. He knew it was his. It was even red!
As some of you may know, Alex is a sensitive little guy. By sensitive, I mean he’s sensitive to sensory stimulation most people can process with ease. It’s hard to pin him down to hypo- or hyper-sensitive. He’s seems to vacillate between the two at his own discretion. But one thing is consistent, he’s extra-sensitive to sound. Everyday sounds are too much for him to bear. One way he copes is by producing his own sound-canceling noises at high volumes, which is hard on everyone else.
We recently had a home visit with the autism coordinator in charge of the boys’ waiver funds. (Wisconsin’s solution to the financial “burden” of providing services to children with autism was to create an autism waiver that provides a limited number of years of intensive in-home therapy, followed by a slightly less expensive bundle of money managed by a social worker for services and equipment to help the family develop a post-intensive program tailored to their child(ren). All three of my boys have “gone post,” meaning they’ve graduated from the intensive in-home whether they’re ready or not.) Her primary purpose was to discuss how Willy’s new diagnosis of epilepsy changes things. Her secondary purpose was to bring a “gift” for Alex.
Like I said, he knew what it was as soon as he saw it. He knew it was his. It was a red pair of sound-dampening headphones.
Alex took the offering and put it on right away. He smiled. Not the over-anxious smile of happy over-stimulation (his norm throughout the summer), but a contented smile of peace. He even wore his glasses for a significantly longer duration when paired with the headphones (which helped keep the glasses on without the strap).
I could see it on his face. This was what he’d been missing since school had ended. This was what he needed. Sweet relief! A break from the overwhelming sound of life going on around him. Quiet. Hey, I can relate, that’s one of the reasons I stay up so late!