On Inexplicable Tears and Autism

20526820_10211534346489166_946048970_nSometimes, out of the blue, Callum suddenly bursts into tears. Real crocodile tears and a quivering lower lip. It’s not when we’re out and about or in new situations or noisy environments – where you might expect for his senses to get overloaded and him to get emotional. It’s home, during quiet moments. Where he’s relaxed and comfortable. It’s after joyful bursts of hopping around, doing ball tricks, and endless repetitions of tickle-me. When you’d never expect it. And nothing I can do that he normally loves as comfort will soothe him. No back rubs or snuggles dry his tears.

Then, just as inexplicably, he stops and returns to his normally happy mood and playful self. I’ve often tried to figure out what’s happening, what’s wrong, what he’s thinking. But I can’t seem to do it.

Right now, I’m watching him looking out the front window after just such a crying spell. And I’m realizing that it’s not really my job to get to the bottom of his every emotion. He gets to have them too – no justification required. Perhaps he expresses them differently. Saves them up – stored until he’s in a safe place to process them all at once. The tears a release of the words he doesn’t have and can’t express – but like every other human on the planet, still needs to.

So, I think – other than quickly ascertaining if he’s in pain or wanting something I can provide – I’m just going to let him cry. Sit with him while he does and stop peppering him with so many questions as to the cause. And let him be himself, without me implying something is wrong in how he does it.

We’re not given instruction manuals for any child, but in a child like Callum, you can’t help but feel the lack of one even more. I hope he senses I’m doing the best I can.

3 thoughts on “On Inexplicable Tears and Autism

  1. Jen

    Hya think they carry memories very much close to them…an Aspergers Psychologist told me that memories are very much not filed “backwards” as in so many neurotypical people so can recall happy and sad memories any time so its not just about the sensory response or activity of the moment…they are very delicate children who use routine etc to cope

  2. Erin

    My son is now 10 years old and we experience moments similar to this. As a parent watching him have this moment of expression, it’s truly heartbreaking. I too, would always comfort and think “something is wrong” and analyzed the moments leading up to the tears to try to understand. During moments such as this, my son will look me straight in the eyes and I cuddle him as much as he’s willing to let me and let him work himself thru the emotion. While it’s emotional to be part of, in some strange way I’m also proud of these moments in hat he does show such emotion and embrace it.
    I enjoy your posts so much and you capture such truth to what so many of us experience.

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