• Kristine Mastronardi

Moments of Connection

I recently interviewed Jake for his Youtube channel so viewers could get a glimpse into his past to see where he was and how far he has come. Jake still struggles, as we all do, but “the core symptoms of autism” or what the DSM-5 lists as the criteria for an autism diagnosis have improved considerably or have gone away completely.

Looking at Jake today, it may seem hard to imagine. Jake is so motivated and engaging. The photos below are from an early engagement Jake and I did together.

An early engagement with RDI

Jake not so "happy" engaging with me.

I’m not sure what goal or objective we were targeting, I don’t remember. But you can see in the second photo, Jake is making a mean face to show me his displeasure. Jake was not completely on board in the beginning. As he mentions in his video, he was very inflexible and slight changes in his routine set him off. Maybe he did not like that he was adding these specific chocolate chips to the recipe. Or more likely, he was upset that we were even doing this activity together in the first place. This moment really captures the struggle we as parents face when dealing with autism. There was a time where Jake did not see the value in engaging with me. He would rather isolate himself and replay scripts in his head.

But, as you can see, I persist with a smile on my face. Kudos to my past self. My present self knows I was probably dying inside. Fearful of Jake running off at any moment. But I held it together. If only my future self could have told her it was going to be okay.

My past self may have been reassured in the last photo. That clearly shows a happy, positive moment between Mother and Son, Guide and Apprentice. Those are the moments that matter. Those are the moments of connection we strive for with our children, especially our children with autism. The skill of making cookies is not the goal. The goal is that beautiful moment of connection. And the many moments of connection thereafter.

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