As our family journeys in this spectrum of Autism, a big part of my son’s make-up is that he talks out loud to himself. Almost incessantly. Trust me that I am not exaggerating this! He has several characters for which he also speaks out loud. As he has gotten older these conversations have gotten more sophisticated, less gibberish and jargoning and more recognizable speech. I hear them as delayed echolalia and some scripting. Henry calls them his stories.
He has an incredible imagination and his stories are mostly filled with adventures involving time-travel, space, and battling fantastic creatures with swords and lasers. Henry is a visual thinker. He does truly see in pictures. I want to encourage his storytelling as I’m certain what he is seeing in his brain is nothing short of brilliant. And I admit, there is a part of me that is envisioning him as the next Joss Whedon.
But there are days when his ramblings get on my last nerve and it just drives me plain nuts! The fast-paced jumble of words, partial conversations, and special effects noises, loudly droning on and on and on and…
Shamefully, I admit that on those days, inside my head, I am screaming, “Just shut up for a while!”
What actually comes out is me pleading, “Henry! Shhhhhh! Please. A softer voice.” I hear myself say this several times a day.
Many days his voice is constant noise when I am longing for some quiet. I know this sounds harsh. Please don’t misunderstand me here. We are a busy and loud family of five. Generally Henry’s talking is not to anyone. At least anyone we can see. He is only talking out his stories to himself. He is not engaging in conversations with the rest of the family. I often crave quiet; to read or write or even to just watch a movie or show without interruption. Watching TV with Henry is usually filled with his side notes of factoids about the topic you are watching or about something completely different which is just as frustrating. And if it is a show or movie that he knows…well then most likely you will also get some live action acting, much like that of going to see The Rocky Horror Picture Show in a theater.
I have met some other moms with kids on the autism spectrum that have very limited speech or are completely nonverbal and I know they long to hear their child speak. Anything. When I remember this I feel guilty for letting Henry’s incessant talking get to me.
I do want to encourage him! How amazing would it be for him to learn to write or draw what he sees?! A wonderful gift that he could share with others! Yes, some days I wish for a bit more quiet. But mostly I wish I could experience this wonderful paracosm that Henry has created that only he can see.
Now if only he could create a bit more quietly. Shhhhhhhh…just for a little bit? Please?