Autism Treatment Center of America®
I_want_this_for_my_Son

A Miracle To Believe In

Chapter 1 Continued

WEDNESDAY - The Third Day

The Sotos arrived at exactly nine o'clock. Before anyone could be seated, Francisca started talking very rapidly. Jaime put both hands up, trying to slow the avalanche of words. Suddenly, she started crying. Roby held her, then spoke quietly to Jaime, who turned to us.

"Senor Soto asks me to explain to you what happened last night in the car. Robertito and his mother sat in the back seat, which is usual. Always, the child pulls his arms into his body and falls asleep wrapped up in himself. Last night, quite specifically, he did something he has never done before. Never! Robertito edged across the seat until he sat right next to Francisca. Then, several seconds later, he rested his hand on his mother's arm, leaned his head against her shoulder and fell asleep."

Jaime, our dignified and very formal interpreter, drew a handkerchief from his breast pocket and put it to his eyes.

We all stood there. Together. In silence. Smiling through moist eyes for the mother who had waited four years for such a gesture from her child. Francisca hugged Suzi, then put her arms tightly around me. Her son walked easily across the room and headed for the land of toilets and tubs. Suzi kissed Jaime, then followed her student. The maestro beamed.

"I don't understand," Francisca began. "You and Suzi have been working with Robertito and yet, he is different with us."

"Because you're different with him, Francisca," I said. "By working on yourself, you've been working with him. Each night, you've looked at some of your unhappiness and the beliefs which caused it. Every time you've changed a belief, you've changed your attitude and your feelings about yourself and your son. Your eyes, your smile, the touch of your hand, your body language - it all has begun to change. Remember, we're not talking about poses or strategy. When we're more accepting, Robertito knows. When we show him he can move us, he takes more risks."

"I don't know whether we're fully accepting yet," Roby admitted.

"Wherever you are now, your attitude has obviously made a difference already. We can explore it more tonight. Today, we'd like both of you to start working with Robertito. Okay?"

Roby and Francisca nodded their heads enthusiastically.

"You'll start right after lunch."

Eye contact with Robertito had improved dramatically. From time to time, he would look directly at us, sometimes for as long as eight to ten seconds. We noticed he stopped and started flapping more often in an effort to control us. He smiled much more easily. Though he still watched us peripherally most of the time, he seemed to understand we were there for him; without demands, without conditions. When Suzi out-flapped him, shaking her hands faster than he did, Robertito burst out laughing. They both giggled for several minutes.

Roby and Francisca took over the session in the afternoon. Suzi and I worked with them alternately. By early evening, we stood sweating behind the glass doors of the bathtub.

Robertito's spontaneous eye contact increased significantly all day. Francisca fed him dinner eye-to-eye. But we segmented half the meal for an experiment. Roby placed pieces of vegetables in all different parts of the room. Robertito watched carefully, then reached for the food as his father deposited it. One time, Roby put some carrots on a ledge too high for his son to see. At first, Robertito just stood immobile. The blank stare returned to his eyes. Then, very slowly, very methodically, he raised his arm, and felt along the inside of the ledge. Within seconds, he stuffed the food into his mouth. A mind-boggling feat for this little boy. We could actually watch him develop before our eyes, actually witness his unfolding from moment to moment. His flowering made the movement with out son, Raun, suddenly seem like slow motion. It took eight weeks or seven hundred hours until we had developed observable eye contact. It took many months until we had developed observable eye contact. It took many months until Raun could retain objects in his mind without concretely seeing them.

Our excitement consumed us. We decided to try to make the interaction between Robertito and his parents slightly more sophisticated. Roby placed plastic containers of juice and water in different parts of the room, out of his sons reach, but clearly within his line of vision. Robertito stood below the medicine cabinet and scratched on the mirror. He looked frantically at the can of yellow liquid beyond his reach.

"Jugo. Jugo, Jugo," his father repeated. "Diga-me, Robertito, Jugo." Allowing five seconds for any kind of response, he gave his mute son the juice. These games continued throughout the remainder of the day.

As Robertito became more attentive, wanting more from us and his parents, we tried to place ourselves in positions of use. Each time he indicated his desire for food, by grabbing or even by standing and looking at the objects, we came to his assistance immediately.

In the last moments of the session, Francisca introduced a simple stacking toy designed for six-month-old infants. Each time her son knocked it down, we rebuilt it. Just as we left the bathroom, Robertito bent down and placed one block on top of another. The roar of our applause and cheering chased him from the room.

After dinner, we continued the dialogues with Roby and Francisca. They explored more of their discomforts, unearthed more of their beliefs. We dealt with their questions about their own abilities to continue the program in Mexico. As they became more accepting and trusting of themselves, they began to realize they could have the answers if they allowed themselves to look freely.

Chapter 1 Continued