I've seen this pattern of behavior over the years with Evan, something I describe as "the window of his brain has opened" and we get to see inklings of a normal little boy. What is normal, anyway, you might ask...but, trust me if you don't know this phenomenon from personal experience...it's like the world comes into focus for him - there is language and conversation, and he's engaged in the world (our house) around him and not locked on his own private island.
This window opened for Evan Thursday afternoon after school and I knew it immediately. The moment the window cracked, it could have slammed shut again quite easily because he came off the school bus in tears (the noise and chaos is getting to him, though, frankly, I'm surprised he's lasted this long); I reassured him that I could drive him to school next week and reminded him that he didn't have school on Friday due to some testing he needed. From there I jumped right in to talking about a leprechaun trap for St. Patrick's Day, and, that was it - I was able to prop open that window long enough for him to take over.
The afternoon was spent building a leprechaun trap, and dinner...well, dinner was spent at the table sitting with the family, eating what the family was eating, and TALKING. I can count on one hand the number of times he has sat at the dinner table in the last 8 months with the family. We talked about gym class, and how it's his favorite special, but how he doesn't like "unexpected behavior" from his peers who, on this day, were super excited about playing cops and robbers and were acting a little crazy. You know how you can tell a kid who gets social skills teaching? They say things like "unexpected behavior" and "flexible thinking"as part of their normal vocabulary.
The window remained open on Friday morning, probably helped in part by the night time appearance of a gnome left by the leprechaun. His morning testing left him tired, but he had several hours in the afternoon of quiet, alone time and was right back into being engaged with the family by the late afternoon. Unfortunately, my middle daughter got very sick during this time; however, instead of Evan isolating himself (which, if I wasn't the Mom, that is what I would have done), he became a secret agent spy, complete with a license and rule book, and traveled stealthily throughout the house in an effort to maintain quiet and calm. As we approached bedtime, he brushed his own teeth (at 8 years old, this is still something we usually do for him), fixed his bed covers and offered to tuck himself in. This morning, he even asked if it was time for his sister to take some medicine; "is she going to sleep all day?", he asked. "She needs some medicine." He picked a great time to open his mind, this sweet, sweet boy.
Soon, the window will close. It always does. He will become aloof and belligerent. We will need to dress him and brush his teeth. I will have to carry him to the car because he won't leave the house. He will tell me that I am the worst mother ever and that school is terrible. We will miss the boy that we know is in there, and long for the window to open and let him out again. We will be sad because that happy boy is so close. But, we will love him anyway...we will always, always love him, and wait patiently for him to love us back.