Emotions are the nebulous workings of our inner being that manifest themselves outwardly in many ways, as we all know and experience daily. For the typical person with Asperger’s, emotions are very difficult to feel or to manifest. Anger and outbursts, along with being very blunt, do occur. But the very normal emotions that we have, such as empathy or love, often stay buried deep inside the person with autism. I am convinced that they feel these emotions, or some variation of them, but their inability to process and to display these feelings like we do often make these special persons appear to be unloving, for instance, or uncaring.
Recently, while Andrea was still here for Christmas, Aaron was asking his usual question as we drove to meet his day group. “Mom, can you and I do something tonight? Maybe play Skip-Bo or do our backs?” I told him that I wasn’t sure because Andrea and I had rented some movies that we needed to watch before she returned to Texas. Then I told him that he was welcome to watch a movie with us that evening.
He quickly sniffed in disdain at that idea, explaining that he bet we were going to watch a movie about love. I asked him what was wrong with a movie about love and he wisely explained, “Love is too dumb in love story movies!!”
I laughed and then tried to discuss the merits of love, but he would have none of it. No love story movies for Aaron! He’ll take aliens or genetically altered, ravenous mutations any day over love and kissing!!
Saturday afternoon, Andrea was all packed and ready to head back to Texas. She went upstairs to say goodbye to Aaron, who continued to play his computer game while she stood there telling him that she was leaving. She asked him if she could give him a hug and he just gave his deep, throaty chuckle……….but no hug from him as she gave him a squeeze anyway. She understands this about Aaron……..about how uncomfortable he is with these displays of emotion. She laughed as she told us about it.
Yesterday Aaron stood by the table in the kitchen where I was working on something. He wanted to talk. Well, he always wants to talk but sometimes he wants to really talk…….you know, about something that is on his mind beyond aliens or weather or global warming…
“Mom, will Andrea come over again?” I assured him that, yes, Andrea would come over again but we don’t know when. School starts again tomorrow and she’ll be very busy, I told him.
He continued, “You know……Andrea……I noticed……she seems to like me.”
Well, of course she likes you, Aaron! She likes you a lot!
And he said, “She uses that word……….I love you.”
There was that small glimpse into Aaron’s heart that he sometimes allows us to see. Aaron may not use that word often…….that “I love you” word. But he does understand its significance and he does love to be told that he is loved. He rarely returns that “I love you” word, but he does keep it in his heart each time that it is spoken to him. And after all, isn’t that what is most important………..that he is told and he knows that he is loved?
As a mother of a child of whatever age with whatever special need, we don’t always receive many outward expressions of love or appreciation. But it’s not about us, is it? It’s about these precious people that God has entrusted to us, to love and to nurture and to train and to protect. We show them love……….the love of a parent and the love of God……….knowing that we may seldom if ever receive that same love in return.
But they know…….they know if they are loved, and this love warms their hearts just as love warms our hearts. Sometimes Aaron is hard to like, but I will never stop loving him. And I pray that I will never stop telling him that “I love you” word that he seems to most often ignore.
He says, “Love is too dumb in love story movies!” But I don’t believe for a minute that he feels that way about his own heart.