• Michelle Spady

SILENT: They're Watching!

Word for the day is SILENT

Silent in all of its forms. During these times, pay attention to your children as they sit in silence. As they watch us silently as we react and respond to those who have been silenced.

A few days ago, I heard a loud noise come from my son’s bathroom. He had just come in from sitting outside in silence. Something he often does. Something he enjoys. He is high-functioning autism. Sometimes I envy him for the disorder. As my husband and I jumped to run towards his bathroom and I called through the door, “…Are you okay? What happened?” I quickly turned his doorknob, which is locked most of the time. I saw that he had taken off his gloves and was beginning to wash his hands, (a normal obsession) mask still on, and I couldn’t see his entire face, but I could see his glassy, wet eyes. (Mothers can see through those eyes.) My son is at least 6’ tall, solid built, about 190 lbs. As he turned towards our faces peeking in, and shaking his hands from the water, he answered, “I’m ok, I just lost my footing and slipped.” My eyes quickly circled the bathroom. I could not see any signs of him falling or slipping in that contained space. He’s too big, too tall, and too balanced, and rugs everywhere. He’s also VERY honest and literal. Another trait for an autistic child. A trait that a mother knows all too well about her child. Honesty. But why? It bothered me as I went back to cooking and my husband to the news. The news. The news. My mind wouldn’t leave it alone. My mind, like his mind (most of the time), when he gets analytical, obsessed, dwells on a matter, and becomes even more silent, knew that there was more to the story, than “I lost my footing. I’m okay.”

More probing, as we mothers do, even when the response is, “I don’t want to talk about it.” We know then that there is more. When you KNOW your child so well that you can tell if you’re getting half-truths-you dig more with second and third-level questions.

The truth…You didn’t slip in the bathroom, did you? Big beautiful eyes looking up at you. Is it the news? “Yes.” What about it? Is it what’s going on in the world or just hearing it too much on the news/TV? “Both.” Did you kick the wall or something and NOT fall? “The cabinet.” Without emotion, without judgment, or checking for a hole in the cabinet, the hugs, love, and talk began on ways to express your anger as a young, Black male in America, without mentioning that extra burden of Autism, and careful not to frighten him even more.

Our “talk” is a different talk. We must speak and communicate in a language that a developmentally delayed, young adults, living with Autism can understand. It’s either black or white with him. Oftentimes no gray matter. Well, is it this or is it that? Should I, or shouldn’t I? Why do I need to be so careful where I walk? Why is it not okay to take a shortcut through the neighborhoods? Then I don’t want to go out! I could go on. Probably my next book subject, RAISING BRADFORD; in hopes of helping other parents who love their Black boys, but struggle with ways to discern what is going on with them as they internalize and choose to sit in silence, to react silently, as they watch men like them being silenced. #blackboys #blackmalesautism #blackautisticyoungadults #GeorgeFloyd #silence #momsofblackboys

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