Monday, May 6, 2013

Excitement Level

"...When communicating Ethan shows a limited range of expressions and gestures..."
-- From one of Ethan's evaluations by his developmental pediatrician
Don't ask me why people on the autism spectrum have difficulty communicating excitement in what we neurotypicals like to call "an appropriate way."
Don't ask me why a child jumping up and down when excited is socially acceptable, but a child who shows his excitement by spinning in circles or flapping his hands is not.
Don't ask me why it is that people with autism aren't ones to have wide-eyes and wide-open mouths, to gasp in awe or have a grin that takes over their face, why they are more muted in their expressions in some ways yet at other times (usually at different times than everyone else) they are more animated, in their albeit different way of being animated.
I just don't know. But I know this:
Yesterday morning Ethan woke up and bounded over to our bedroom.
"I am SO excited!" he announced.
"I know why. Because the new Angry Birds Star Wars video is coming out today on my phone?" I asked knowingly.
"Yes!" he exclaimed. "And because today is the day of the Super Why show. I am double-excited! I can't WAIT!"
I thought about everything that had to go into our brief exchange. Ethan had to wake up and know that the feeling he was feeling, those good butterflies in the stomach, was called excited. He had to figure out what it was that was happening in his little world that was causing him to have that feeling. He had to express that -- AND, he had to gauge in his mind his level of excitement...had to understand that excitement comes with varying degrees.
All of that, in just a moment's exchange.
He did it.
That's pretty darned exciting. 

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