When we realised that autism was a part of Ethan’s world I soon realised that Ethan showed affection in a very different way. He would back into you for cuddles and we would touch heads together as a gesture for a kiss.
This isn’t something we worked on it’s what naturally happened, Ethan is very affectionate but it is in his own way and on his terms. He never initiated cuddles. I never realised this was an autistic trait but when I did it upset me.
I remember a very low point when Darren was stuck in traffic and we had no idea what time he would make it home from work. This left the bedtime routine totally down to me, something that was out of Ethan’s normal routine. His dad is normally the one that takes Ethan to bed. The fact that Ethan didn’t ask for cuddles really hit me that night as I was holding his hand waiting for sleep to come. My tears came and as they fell Ethan was totally oblivious to this which made my feelings even worse.
After giving myself a talking too I realised that this didn’t matter and the fact that Ethan was showing some affection towards us was the most important and positive thing. This is how we have had our cuddles for the past five years.
But recently there has been a change.
Ethan has started to ask for cuddles.
It started a few weeks ago when Ethan got a little rough with his sister and they both ended up in tears. When I asked him to say sorry, which is also a new development, he said sorry and quickly said the word cuddle. This was quickly followed with a full bear hug cuddle.
Over the space of the past few weeks Ethan will now request cuddles when he is ill, when he is upset or just when he is sitting next to me on the sofa. Granted they aren’t full bear hugs all the time, he might just want my arm round him, but he has requested this sign of affection.
When I think back to how upset I was that night about my son not wanting to cuddle me. I wish I could go back and tell myself not to worry he will get there in the end and it will be worth the wait.