A young child holding an adults hand is one of the most natural things they do. Not in the case of autistic children, as coming into contact with other people is one of the things they find hard to do, as they don`t understand the concept of anyone’s feelings or emotions and what they mean. The only time I was able to hold my sons hand when he was younger was when I had to grab hold of it to stop him from going and doing something he shouldn`t or he was in danger of doing something where he could get hurt, like crossing the road. No matter what the reason was that I got hold of it, he was always trying to pull it away. When children get older they are less likely to hold your hand, as its not cool to be seen doing it.
My son celebrated his twelve birthday last week. He was given some money, so wanted to go and spend it on Saturday. For the last few years he has stayed at home with his dad when Alison and I have gone into the local town(which is approx 7 miles away) doing the weekly shopping. On many occasion he had said he wanted to come and got as far as the front door, put then went back into the house. I now know the reason for this is because it is out of routine, and he finds it hard to be in busy places as it gets to much for him. After finding out he was autistic, on the odd occasion he did come shopping, I learnt that I had to be very specific about where we were going and which shops we were going into and let him know in which order. Any variation from this would cause him to get very upset and start panicking whilst out. So on this occasion I told him where we were going and what we would be doing so he knew before hand as his brother also had some money to spend, so I explained we would also be going into shops looking for things for them both.
We arrived as normal in town and parked up, then set of for the shops. Next to the carpark is a fairly busy road, so as normal I got hold of my sons hand so he didn`t walk into the road as he doesn`t see any danger. Then let go when we had crossed. What surprised me then was he put his hand back in mine. Instead of closing mine in a slight grasp around his, I just left it loose down by my side, so as not to frighten him of. Every time we came out of a shop he did this. I was inwardly over joyed and proud of my son as we walked hand in hand around town, as this was such an achievment for him, whether he realised what he was doing or not.