Probably one of the most challenging things for me about Andrew is how little he reacts to things. He really does almost act like he is deaf. Below is a video of what it is like most of the time with Andrew. He just wanders around and doesn't listen to anything that we say. It is difficult because it's very frustrating and at the same time it's not his fault.
I never really know what is going on in his head and he is often very violent. Along with this disconnect comes an emotional disconnect as well. One of the most wonderful and precious things about being a mom is having your children wrap their arms around you and tell you that they love you or that they think you are the best, etc. With Andrew he asks for a lot of affection (when he wants it) but never gives it back. Every night I give my kids a hug and kiss and tell them that I love them. And every single night I get a blank stare or he turns away from me or at times he hits me.
There have been 2 separate occasions that this was not what happened.
One time he was being especially bad about going to bed and I was at the end of my rope. After the 15th time (it felt like, I really don't remember the number but it was more than I was fit to handle) of putting him back in bed I leaned down and gave him a kiss and then he did something that he had never done before. He just grabbed me and wrapped his arms around my neck and wouldn't let go! Then he started giving me kisses; over and over again. And every time he kissed me he would lean back and look me in the eye and then squeeze and kiss again. It was probably a couple of minutes of this. I started to cry because he had never done that before and it also calmed me down. After he was done I said good night again and then he went to bed.
The other time I was doing our night time "good night" and after I gave him his hug and kiss I tried to get his attention and said, "Andrew, mommy loves you." and he just looked away. So I said it again and then I thought, maybe I'll try signing it. So I signed "I love you" and I said, "Andrew I love you!" and he just stared at the sign and then he looked at his hands and he made the sign for "I love you" and then held it up in the air, looked straight at me, and gave me a huge grin. Again, it brought tears to my eyes. That was the first time he ever communicated in the 3 1/2 years of his life that he loved me. It hasn't happened since (but I keep showing him the sign and try to help him make the sign).
So I guess the point of all this is to help share, with all who are reading, that it's hard to have a child completely disconnected. It is just another one of those things that adds to the emotional exhaustion of having a child with autism. But when I have those rare connected moments they are huge and I cherish them.