Ethan is no exception. I'm starting to realize that he's beginning to express his fears, albeit in his own kind of quirky way.
First, there was the "man on the hill" and the shadow the closet door makes on his ceiling at night. The shadow is pretty easy to get, but the man on the hill apparently has to do with the ball field behind our house, just up a little hill and past a small grove of trees. You can't see it but you can hear the crack of the bat and cheers in the summertime, and see cars through the trees, driving on a dirt path up there. Ethan does not like this. I think because he is so tuned in to sounds, when there is something he can hear but not see, it stresses him out a bit. And sometimes the cheering actually sounds like yelling.
Then, this whole thing about cars smashing. We've never witnessed an accident, but we do drive by this house every day that has this junked, smashed in the front car sitting in its front yard. "Uh oh, the car's broken!" he used to say every day. Around that time I started teaching him about crossing the street. There is NO WAY he will be crossing the street on his own for a VERY long time, but I wanted to introduce the concept about looking both ways, and about how the cars will hit you if you run out there. We've also talked about seat belts, being safe, stopping at red lights so cars don't smash, etc. Sometimes I think I'm just talking. Sometimes I'm sure he doesn't get it, or tunes me out, as Anna already likes to do sometimes. But apparently I got the wheels turning.
"If the cars smash, Ethan will be broken," he'll say several times a day, looking out at the unfortunately busy street that we live on. He went on a walk with my mom and kept stopping at every house's driveway. "No, the car is not coming," he'd say. "Be safe!"
He apparently is ready to take weather precautions, too. After hearing me talk during the bad thunderstorm, he's made up a little song and will sometimes sing it if he's pondering the threat of another storm. "If you get scared to (of) the thunder and lightning, you can go to the basement!" he sings, quite melodically, if I do say so.
He told me he's afraid of the sound our kitchen sink handle has been making lately...that he doesn't like the sound of the velcro on a diaper...and that he didn't like the sound of a certain type of fireworks we were watching on YouTube ("Why do they sound tangled?" he asked, whatever THAT means).
Sometimes he's not only scared, he's MAD. "No! I can't go in the library! There's people in there!" he shouted the other day, dropping to the ground while I held his hand -- as if "people" were a swarm of killer bees.
"Ethan," I've been telling him again and again. "It's okay. You don't have to be scared all of the time. You can ask God for help. God doesn't want you to live afraid." I felt as if I were reminding myself, as if I were echoing words spoken across the generations. Anxiety has been big in our family, going back to numbers of ancestors.
In some ways I feel bad that my son is fighting so many fears. But there is another part of me that is profoundly grateful he is beginning to express what's going on in his mind. He's cracking open the window and letting the rest of us see (and hear, and sometimes even smell) the way he does. I know the frustration of so many parents and caregivers who are left wondering, struggling, desperately trying to figure out the fears assuaging their child with ASD. I pray for them, that God will give them the wisdom they may not be able to attain through regular means.
I pray that in some miraculous way, my boy will fight his history and his own internal makeup and adapt a life of not fear and worry but peace and joy. I'm cheering him on every step of the way, fighting alongside him, just as our Father does for each of us.