C.S. has made a number of comments over the past few days that mark a significant milestone for him. Yesterday he explained, "I have fragile feelings." When he repeated it again today, I asked if someone else had said this to him.
"No. It's just something I came up with myself."
"That's an interesting way to describe yourself. I think you're right. But why do you think that?"
"Because it's easy to make me cry."
Such self-awareness is really remarkable. This calm statement of fact is a huge departure from "I'm stupid!" which pretty much sums up what has passed for self-reflection over the past few years. It is simply something that has tormented and beaten him.
Of course, we've been working on just such a thing. Not only is saying "I'm stupid" one of the top 3 things he is not allowed to do ever, but we've also been practicing awareness skills in his various therapies. His buddy group facilitator directed up to a few websites that allow us to discuss and practice recognizing feelings, one uses real images and another a computerized face that he can modify himself. Of course he likes the computerized version the best. It is similar to updating his Mii or the clothes on his Webkinz characters and so seems like a fun game to him.
We also practice while watching television. Not just discussing what the characters are feeling but also for example, pointing out that Coach Sue Sylvester did not deal with her disappointment appropriately when she punched the judge after the regional competition winners were announced. It was so cute to hear him discuss her behavior so clinically.
But I'm still amazed that he's begun commenting on people's faces, asking us what we think they feel or telling us what he thinks they may be feeling. He's really applying his new skills.
We are making progress! I know it is happening, but even then, a gain of self-awareness can be a difficult thing to realize or measure.
Silver Lining: On a busy day of errands, while paused in a waiting room, I flipped through People Magazine (a guilty pleasure that makes waiting rooms so worth it) and saw an article on a high school boy born without a leg that had triumphed as a wrestler. I softened up immediately, my heart swelling for his accomplishment. Of course I'm an absolute sucker for such stories. I reflected then, how the world applauded this, in part because his the defeat of his opponent — his disability — was so apparent as, poised on his one leg, the ref raised his arm in an exaggerated pose of triumph. However, despite my son's struggles, despite gaining strength and skill through constant practice, it is highly unlikely my C.S. will ever realize such a photogenic moment. Phrases like "fragile feelings," though charming, aren't nearly as moving as a man running on blades across a finish line or the bulging triceps and pectorals of this one-legged wrestler. But, although it strikes slower, my heart swells even more at the realization of his new milestone. I feel like raising his arm high in the air over his finally defeated opponent. My friends, we have achieved an appropriate expression of self-awareness here!