Voices of Autism: ‘Happiness Is Soft Things’
Every day throughout April–Autism Awareness Month–we will be featuring a different reader-submitted story about living with autism. Today’s story was written by Jenny Herman, mother of Joshua, 5, and author of the blog Many Hats Mommy:
I’m going to date myself here. Some of you will remember the “Happiness Is…” comics from the 70s. For example, “Happiness is a warm puppy.” Well, yesterday I had a chance to give my autistic son some happiness. A couple of months ago he pilfered a long velveteen bracelet box from my mom’s dresser. He would walk around rubbing it against his face, smiling or closing his eyes to enjoy the feel.
As the weather got cooler, and the chance to wear a sweatshirt came, Little Man realized that sweatshirts are soft inside, and he often requested to wear one. The other day in the grocery store he pulled a pair of fleece gloves off a rack and started rubbing them on his face.
Yesterday I said to him, “Do you like soft things, Little Man?”
“Yes, I do. I like soft gloves, and I like to wear soft sweatshirts. I like to sleep with a soft blankie. I like to eat soft things like marshmallows.” Hmm… he seems pretty self-aware to me.
“Would you like to go to Target with me and pick out some soft gloves?”
“YES!” And so our evening of fun began.
On our way into Target, Little Man noticed the outside wall of the store was covered in tiny rocks. “I want to feel this,” he said, and he proceeded to run his hand along the wall.
We found the sweatshirts. A few weeks ago I had purchased him a red stegosaurus dinosaur sweatshirt. Of course he loved the inside of it. The sweatshirts were still on sale, so I told him, “You can pick out another sweatshirt. Which one would you like?” I started showing him his five options. Can you guess which one he wanted? Not the football one or tough truck one. Yup, another red dinosaur sweatshirt.
We found the hats and gloves, and I showed Little Man that he could choose which color he liked. He chose navy gloves with orange piping and a grey stripe at the wrist. He picked the striped hat that matched the gloves. Stripes are among his favorites. He put them on, and was quite happy.
We got home and showed Daddy and little brother the soft things we bought. Little Man put them on his bed so he could have them at bedtime to hold. When bedtime came, he actually wanted to wear his gloves and hat. I helped him get them on, tucked him into his soft blankie, and gave him his soft black jaguar beanie baby.
When I checked on him later, Little Man was on his side in his soft hat and gloves, under his soft blankie, his face against his jaguar. I thought to myself, “Happiness is soft things.”
Maybe you can buy a bit of happiness after all.