When I speak to people about how my son Mason gets "lost" sometimes. I am usually given a half blank stare followed by the same old question.. "What do you mean Mason gets lost?" Or, "What do you mean you lose him?" Getting lost is not a technical term relating to Autism, rather it is my way of describing a very real symptom. I managed to capture Mason's journey in some really poor quality photos this morning and would like to help you understand what I mean when I say, "Mason was lost," or "we lost him."
I walked into my kitchen this morning to find Mason standing on a chair staring blankly at nothing. The technical term here is perseveration. This is when a child get's "stuck" on something, or in Mason's case it would seem that he gets stuck "somewhere." I like to explain it as Mason has gone into "Mason's world" where things are normal for him. Where he can more easily digest a complicated and over-stimulating world. At any rate, I saw that Mason was lost when I came into the kitchen this morning and reached for my camera to try to document with photos my journey into his world, and his travel back to ours.
This is Mason... lost. He wasn't staring at me, his is how I found him when I came into the kitchen. I know he is lost, because he does not 'snap out of it' or even so much as blink when I repeatedly call his name. He was in "Mason's World" internally. Externally, he was staring at nothing. I stepped in front of him, to put myself in his direct line of sight and began my journey into his world.
We have been working for a year now, on finding Mason when he gets lost. The episodes happen less and less frequently these days. Usually, no more than a few times a day and he is relatively easy to pull out of it. A year ago.. this was his constant. It was all but impossible to pull him out.
I start by positioning myself in his direct line of sight, and I sing. I vary my pitch, my facial expressions, the words and sounds. I move slowly within his line of sight. I sing songs that I have made up for Mason. Songs that I know he enjoys and that make him smile. I clap my hands and make clicking sounds with my tongue. I touch his face gently to let him know that I am here.
His softened facial expression lets me know that he is not so deep into his world as he was when I first began my journey. He is hearing, feeling and possibly even seeing me. I have made contact with him, on his terms, in his world. Now, I have to gently pull him back to ours. This may seem like a silly routine. Silly to speak of luring Mason back with songs and such. But this is a part of Autism, and of what works for us. A big part. The more time Mason spends in his world, the less likely he is to want to be a part of ours. It is necessary that we be vigilant in keeping Mason here.. with us.
I continue with my songs, my soft and welcoming smiles and my gentle caresses. I decide to test Mason.. to see if he is progressing in his journey back with me. I move slightly out of direct line of sight. His eyes shift toward me. He is now definitely seeing me, and I have gained his attention. The songs have worked again
. *tears* He is following me with his gaze. I keep on with the songs gently until I am sure he is comfortable in MY world. I continue until I know he is okay here and will not regress back into "Mason's World." It only takes a few seconds and I know...
I got him. He's okay.