One day at the park, Jude became fixated on a tire swing – he wanted to stay on it the entire time we were there. Then a little girl came along who patiently waited with her dad for her turn to go on the swing. When I realized I told Jude, it was time to get off so we can share. He suddenly began hollering and proceeded to have a tantrum. Jude is on the spectrum, and his outbursts are not of a typical 2-year-old. It can last for nearly an hour until he gets his way. I give it to the kid, though. He is resilient, not easily persuaded, and knows what he wants. Sadly I can’t always give in, and I had to show him that things will not always go his way.
As I attempted to pull him away from the tire, her dad said, “Honey, let me talk to you for a minute.” I watched as he took her by the hand and they walked to a tree a few feet away. He explained to her that Jude was different. I watched her face in confusion as she couldn’t understand what that meant. He then said, “Trust me on this one; you can go on the swing when he is done.” I continued to console Jude, but still eavesdropping on their conversation. The dad came over with a grin of understanding and said, “It’s okay; we will go on when he’s ready to get off.” I nodded my head, smiled back, and said, “It could be a while.” To which he replied, “That’s alright!” I don’t know what happened at that moment. I never told him Jude was on the spectrum or that when he likes something a lot, he can become obsessed. Yet, for some reason, the dad just got it. And at that moment, I felt understood.
I sometimes think like we are on an island by ourselves, where the rules only apply to us. I say this without denying the tremendous amount of support we have from friends and family, but if you have a child with similar needs, you know what I mean. It can be isolating. I share my stories in hopes of reaching others on their island. I see you. I hear from you. And I understand.