“Time to Listen”: Autism and the simplicity of relationships

It is the end of my day… I am home from work. It was a good day.

I taught a little girl, who is struggling in so many areas, to tie her shoes… and it gave me goosebumps. I can actually teach anyone who can do the first step and cross the laces and loop it under and tighten it… to tie their shoes. No. Seriously. Anyone! And someday I will do a post about that… which I am stating here as my commitment to do so!

Anyway, today I got home, riding my shoe-tying high, and when I looked at Craig the Amazing I could sense that he might be on the edge of frazzled. He is working so hard as the home facilitator for H’s distance education schooling. He is doing a fabulous job… but it is hard work… some days are really hard work.

Today when I took in the look in his eye, I smiled and said, “Go… just go!!”

And I sent him off to go fishing.

He needs that… it rejuvenates him.

Just like I need to write – or read – or draw – or sing – or run away to the coffee shop sometimes…

And now H is in from the garage where he was tweaking his latest project – and I can hear the familiar stirring of Lego in the bin coming from his room.

Lego is H’s fishing…

And this… this stirring sound of  Lego… this is my calming music.

I love that sound.

I feel the tension drain from my shoulders with each successive crumbly sounding, tinkly plastic stir.

And he calls out, “Mom – What is Mary Poppins about…?”

I respond from the kitchen, “It is a story about two kids who are really struggling. They don’t behave very well and they are unhappy. Their parents are too busy and no one wants to be their nanny. Then Mary Poppins comes along and she teaches the children to find joy in being children, and she shows the parents how to notice and listen to and pay attention to their kids. Then her work is done… and they become a connected family …and Mary Poppins goes to help another family.”

H concurs, “That is what I thought – the parents didn’t have time for their kids…”

My curiosity kicks in, “Why do you ask?”

“I was just thinking about it – and I wanted to know if I was right. I was! That is what I thought: the parents didn’t have time for their kids – and then they learned what was important.”

“Do you think your dad and I spend enough time with you?”

“Yes… of course. And you listen to me too.”

The stirring continues in the silence that follows. I am almost brought to tears in moments like these. I step out of the kitchen to interrupt the Lego music and stop H’s building for a moment.

I need to hug this kid!

As the calming music continues and I get rolling on tonight’s dinner plans… I can’t help but see the metaphor here for acceptance and inclusion. These are big, big things for a child to be considering: being listened to and feeling seen and being given time.

My wonderful kid continues to reveal wonderful things about how deeply he feels and processes and contemplates. I am in awe of him and his beauty and the way he can simplify complex ideas to find the truth at the core.

It is so simple really… a child can see it:

Listen to me…

Give me your time and attention…

Let me be myself and find joy in that…


Image: Photo of H from behind on a wooded path in spring before the trees have leaves. The sun is going down and it looks as though H is holding the sun as the rays break up in his grip. Text reads: “Listen to me… Give me your time and attention… Let me be myself and find joy in that…” (Watermarked – 30 Days of Autism: Leah Kelley)


30 Days of Autism is a project designed to fight stigma, promote civil rights, and increase understanding and acceptance for those who process and experience the world differently.

© Leah Kelley, Thirty Days of Autism, (2013)

About Leah Kelley, Ed.D.

Leah Kelley, M.Ed, Ed.D., Writer, Consultant, Activist, Speaker, and Educator, working with Teacher Candidates at UBC. Authors blog: 30 Days of Autism. Projects support social understanding, Neurodiversity paradigm, Disability Justice, and connecting Disability Studies in Education(DSE)to Educational Practice. Twitter: @leah_kelley Facebook: 30 Days of Autism: Leah Kelley
This entry was posted in Autism, calm, Distance Education, Distributed Learning, Parent, relationships and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to “Time to Listen”: Autism and the simplicity of relationships

  1. Suvarna says:

    Beautiful post.


  2. Such an important message and your graphic at the end is stunning!!!


  3. This is beautiful. I absolutely love how your son was considering how he is listened to, how he is seen, and how he is given time. Reminds me to provide this for my own two daughters. The sad truth is that sometimes life runs away from us and we forget to focus on the things that matter most. The considerations of your son are some of the things that matter most. What my girls think and feel even at the early ages of five and three, matter most. Thank you for sharing this post. I will be sharing it next week on my blog as well!!


  4. Richard Long says:

    Really beautiful post Leah 🙂


  5. Marilyn says:

    Your observance me fantastic parenting, the joy you find in the day to day is infused in your wonderful son. Very much looking forward to exploring the rest of your blog. V happy to have found you and H.


  6. Pingback: A week in Texas…A week of goodies | Where Did the bird go

  7. H sounds awesome. I never thought of Mary Poppins from that perspective. 🙂


  8. Ib Grace says:

    I love this post very much.


  9. I adore Mary Poppins, and this post. Love this:

    Listen to me…
    Give me your time and attention…
    Let me be myself and find joy in that…


  10. Oh, my word – It IS THAT SIMPLE! You put it so well. H”s question reminded me of Jack. He often asks questions and it can seem to outsiders that he is asking a question merely to be asking it, to something he already knows the answer to. But it is exactly that. Do you know me? Do you really know me?


  11. Leah Kelley says:

    ((Brenda)) We are fortunate to have our wonderful boys to remind us about the important stuff ♥


  12. Grainne says:

    As always our boys take our breath away with the simplicity and honesty of their words. I used to get angry when people ignored what my son tried to communicate to them, now I feel sorry for them and what they have missed. Keep enjoying the Lego moments. G


    • Leah Kelley says:

      Thank you for your comment, Grainne! You are so right about what others miss – and too – I must recognize it is about what I can miss as well, if I am not mindful about slowing down to really REALLY connect. Wishing you many lovely Lego moments too 🙂


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