Scrambled

Despite the positive gains we’ve seen already, there are still times when Henry is very hard to reach. We’ve had a couple of these days this week. It’s as if someone has reached into his head and scrambled his brain. His eyes are unfocused and heavy, his face pale. He paces the room, flitting from one thing to another, fingers in his ears. Every word or action of mine, however quiet and tentative, is met with a muttered ‘Stop stop’. It reminds me of when he was in the process of being diagnosed and, as there had been no sudden regression, the paediatrician asked us to look back through old family videos to see if we could pinpoint the age he was when his autism first became apparent. And there it was, at sixteen months, quite clearly on the screen as it had not been clear at the time – a dulling of the eyes, a gradual turning inwards, a gaze that did not meet the camera lens or the person behind it.

It is as times like these that I long to be able to see inside his head and find out just what is going on. I hate not knowing, and not being able to fix it. Being with someone who seems completely preoccupied with his own sensations, thoughts and feelings to the exclusion of everything and everyone else is a demoralising experience, particularly when that someone is your own child. It is like having a door slammed in your face.

However, as I’ve discovered recently, Intensive Interaction offers a way in. It doesn’t force attention or response, but is more like a wooing, a gentle courting of attention. I’ve written a page about II on here, with some video clips, and also linked to the UK site on my ‘About’ page. Where it seems to be most effective with Henry is in conjunction with sensory integration activities, in particular using sound. I have found that if I mirror his sounds, he becomes more engaged to the point when I can change to words. It’s interesting, as sound sensitivity is probably his biggest sensory difficulty – he often puts his fingers in his ears, tells us to stop talking and becomes very distressed if he hears a baby crying. Yet put him in control of the sounds being made ( in II you always follow your partner’s lead ) and he becomes involved and happy. I’ll try to upload some video in the coming week – today’s attempt was scuppered by an 11 year old cameraman with a penchant for wild zooming and panning…

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