Or perhaps I should say, emotional cues!
Like a lot of kiddos with special needs, Dominic never really picked up on emotions or any cues like that unless they were severe and blatant, like anger, etc. Certain subtle emotions and cues like many other things that are grey matter, always eluded him. He struggles with most things that are not black and white. Things like inferences and sarcasm are completely lost on him. He would not be able to read a face or non verbal cue and understand what was happening. If he was told, he would at times seem indifferent. At best, if it was sadness or an emotion that he COULD understand, he might offer a kind or supportive word and go about his business.
Over the last week or so, Dominic has really done well to pick up on certain subtle emotions here with the family. What’s more is that not only has he picked up on them but he has acknowledged them, probed for more information about what was causing the emotion then offering comfort or support. His reads and senses seemed to be almost spot on or at least in the ballpark which is amazing for someone who doesn’t always articulate his own feelings properly. The other day, he was scripting or doing something that was obsessive/compulsive and wanted his sister to join in. She was not interested and may have had a smidge of irritation or perhaps was not giving him her full attention. He responded with “Michela, you seem depressed, whats wrong?” THIS was monumental!!! Ordinarily, he would just say ok then go about his play. Fortunately, he didn’t probe too much as that would have caused more aggravation for her. There have been a few other instances where he has displayed these acts of cognizance.
The last one was just a few minutes ago and what really prompted this note. I was angry with his sister about not listening to me. After the situation was done, I was alone in my chair and I think I may have grunted or put my hands in my face or something. It was the aftermath of the situation. Dominic glanced over and saw whatever it was that I did and asked, “What’s wrong dad?” I said, I was just upset or whatever my response was – I dont even remember now. He replied with ” Ya know what I do when I am upset? I just close my eyes and calm down.” Then he rubbed my back for added comfort.
For Dominic to pick up on and not just respond but to also probe on these cues is nothing short of amazing!!! Most typically developing kids already develop these skills naturally. A lot of special needs kiddos must be taught about their own emotions first then learn to pick up on others. Dominic usually lives in an insular world comprised of his cartoon characters or super heroes. He often scripts and always talks only about his characters. So for him to present behaviors and skills that make him more present, especially as we near his last year of elementary school, is wonderful! It gives hope to a more productive future for him when often times, its so hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel!
This was a very proud moment for me and since it happened more then once, it definitely gives me hope!!!