Bryan is now at a point where you can ask questions and get some real answers. I know that sounds nuts because he is 13 1/2 years old but that’s autism for you. When he was little if you asked him a question, he would repeat the question, which is called echolalia. People told us not to be too worried about this because, like most things, there is good news and bad news about this. Bad news, he’s not answering the question, he’s just repeating it. Good news, he knows a response is required. At the point we were told this information any good news felt like the brass ring so we latched onto it. As time went on, not so brassy that ring, you know? Over time he stopped repeating the question, but didn’t give a real answer. SOOOOOO frustrating. It’s all in there, you can tell from how he behaves, what he does, and what he wants. But, the exchange, the conversation, it’s that thing that is always just beyond our reach. Having a conversation with your child is one of the greatest gifts, the gems they come up with are truly “priceless”. When Bryan does have a 2 or 3 sentence exchange I am often in my head afterward, smiling in my heart that progress has been made. Such a small thing, but enormous at the same time. It’s funny about questions, some are easier to answer than others. He seems to be able to come up with an answer for the who or the where, but the why and how, well those are the really difficult ones. Anything that requires an inference or reasoning linked to language seems to get jumbled somewhere between what he knows and what he says. He often speaks in present tense even though he knows something already happened. As I have mentioned in the last blog, he is struggling with teenage and puberty issues. He is really saying inappropriate things and misbehaving. What’s great about this is it’s typical behavior, what’s bad about it is typical teenage behavior. He even is eating like a teenager. The boy absolutely loves to eat. He is an eating machine from the minute he wakes up until bed. He tries to sneak food when we are not looking and is always asking for more. He lost weight at camp and grew taller so he looks great. He will gain the weight back with ease because he seriously is nonstop. Like most autism “things” it’s ironic since so many kids with autism have food issues, either related to sensory issues or to digestive issues. Fortunately for him and us, he has neither. He is fairly open to trying new foods, and really likes a lot of varied things for a kid. At his age I ate hamburgers or hamburgers. So last night I was putting him to bed and I got under the covers with him like I do most nights. I don’t stay with him more than about 10 minutes, but I like to have this closure with him at the end of the day, just to make sure he feels connected to me. I said to him, “what are you going to dream about?”. Sometimes I ask real questions and sometimes I ask questions to see if he understands what I’m asking. This question was both of those things. At first he gave his usual answer for something he doesn’t want to answer which was “Shrek”. He often says things like “Shrek” or “Dora” or something childish when he doesn’t want to answer, doesn’t know the answer or doesn’t want to try. I do not accept such an answer. So I asked him again, what are you going to dream about? He said, “I dream about Annie’s Pizza”. Annie’s Pizza is our favorite local Pizza place and we order from there at least once a week. I laughed so hard, some combination of the craziness of this response, the candor and the Bryan-ness of it. Love it!! Tonight I asked him, “what are you going to dream about” and he said “food”. Sorry Annie’s!!