Friday, November 14, 2008

An Evening I Won't Soon Forget

My girls were all excited to curl up in front of the TV with some popcorn to watch the American Girl movie that was in theaters last summer. Both of them are big fans of anything American Girl, so I knew they would not be disappointed. As good as the movie was, this post has very little to do with the movie, nor even anything girlish. Tonight was all about my little boy and autism's weakening grip on him.

I wasn't sure if Ryne would even be interested in the movie, because -- you know -- it's a girl movie. But there was no way he was going to miss out on staying up late and eating popcorn, so he was the first one down in the basement to watch the movie. I figured he'd last 15-20 minutes and then he'd be off to another part of the room playing Lego or Knex or just pacing around the basement. This has been the routine for years. His attention span has increased greatly over the years, but when he's watching something that lasts more than 30 minutes and actually has a plot, he rarely makes it through the whole movie (unless we're at a movie theater where it's a little harder to escape).

I guess you can tell where I'm going with this. Yes, he sat through the whole movie. While that is good news, it's probably not blog worthy, so here is the rest of the story. The movie is set in the Great Depression and follows the story of a girl named Kit whose father loses his job and leaves home for Chicago to find work. Kit and her mother are left behind in Cleveland to try and make ends meet. During the scene where Kit's dad says good-bye I glanced at Ryne and noticed he was wiping his eye. My boy was crying! Not just red eyes, but real tears. He lamented, "Why can't they all move to Chicago?" And then to remind me that he is still 100% boy, he wiped his nose on his shirt sleeve. Another time in the movie, he spoke again through tears and sniffles, "Why can't there always be happy endings?" Of course, it is Hollywood and a movie for kids, so at the end of the movie Ryne said, "There is a happy ending!"

I was snuggled up close to him the whole time, marveling at every tear and sniffle. I know I have a lot to be grateful for when it comes to Ryne and the progress he's made over the years. Every night I get to hear my son tell me he loves me and ask to rub noses with me (and for you RDI folks, he does the latter non-verbally). A lot of parents in the world of autism are still waiting for that moment. So sometimes I feel pretty content with where we are. And sometimes I feel guilty for wanting more.

But there is more. I want him to understand that real sadness has nothing to do with not getting to play another video game, but missing a loved one who's passed away. I want him to have the joy that comes from realizing we have a great and awesome God.

It may have just been a movie that made my son cry tonight, but I'm hopeful that there are more tears to come. And more happy endings.


  1. Now that is a mighty cool story.

    Congrats on this milestone!

  2. Sounds like he is doing fantastic! I don't write about it at my blog, but my 15 year old son is Autistic. (One of the reasons I enjoy your blog!) He has Aspergers and was diagnosed at age 10.

  3. Hey that is awesome! Mason has just started sitting through some movies this week, but they are the 30 min. ones, so I can definitely relate. Maybe it's a good week for movies:) Also wanted you to know that I understand your desire to continue to want more for Ryne, and I believe you should want more and strive for more--even though I know he has made further progress than others--don't we do that naturally, with all of our kids? I know the guilty feelings you have in wanting more, at times I do too especially when I've learned about another family who seems to have it a lot worse than I do. It's good to hear about this progress and gives us further hope!

  4. Kellie, this post brought tears to my eyes...what a special moment :)

  5. What great news. It must have been some very special moments to see those tears and realise that he was empathising with the people in the story at such a deep level.

    ~ Sharon