She Doesn’t Know I Will Be Coming Back (What Autism Means To Us)

Little Person has a slight crinkle in her comprehension. She’s very vague on notions of time. She knows clock time (half past one, in ten minutes that sort of thing). But tomorrow? Next week? Later? She doesn’t know what that means.

She doesn’t know that when I go out I will come back. She knows what it means to come back. She knows that things happen, and that we go places. But the when. The when is tricky. And the me doing a different thing to you.

She thinks that because she goes to school, I go to school.

She thinks that later is a forever time away.

And so, I can tell her at 8 AM that we will have lunch at 12, and then we will do a something, and that is fine. But I cannot tell her that we will do a something “in a bit” or “in a while” – because that doesn’t mean anything.

Or maybe it means something terrible. I don’t know.

It means that if I go to a meeting and I don’t know when I will be coming back, she thinks that maybe I will never be coming back. It means that if The Dude goes to fetch something from a friend’s car parked down the street, he is never coming back. It means if I go to look at clothes while she looks at toys, I am never coming back (which is okay when you’re looking at toys, because then you can look at toys forever).

And if you have very few safe people in your world, and then you think they are never coming back, that is a terrible thing.

No wonder she gets anxious.

No wonder my heart breaks.

Every. Single. Day.


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