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Autism Treatment Center, Celebrating Children with Autism!

A Miracle To Believe In

Chapter 1 Continued

THURSDAY - The Fourth Day

The morning session with Robertito signaled another movement. The Sotos accented physical contact, but not as a designed strategy. It evolved naturally during the first minutes they spent together. Roby imitated and tickled his son. Francisca hummed and stroked him while he stood stiffly like a figure cast in bronze. Then, quite casually, as if he had done it a thousand times, Robertito suddenly plopped into his mother's lap. Her mouth opened wide in delight. When she embraced him instinctively, he pulled away and jumped to his feet. Five minutes later, he dropped into her lap again. This time he remained seated for several minutes. Francisca handed her son insertion cups. He flapped the colorful plastic toys by the side of his head, then dropped them on the floor. They repeated this exchange many times. We noticed Robertito's increased agility with his hands, though he still moved them with considerable awkwardness.

Roby presented lunch to his son in the same fashion as the previous dinner. He fed half to him eye-to-eye and placed the remaining food around the room. Little Robertito did not follow his father. Instead, he grabbed the juice container off the floor and held it. He put it to his mouth, but the cover cheated him of a drink. Roby moved to seize the can, but stopped himself and waited. His son walked up to him, dropping the container right in front of his feet. Roby gave him a drink quickly. Unwilling to assume Robertito knew what he did, he duplicated the situation with the water container. The little boy picked up the can and this time, literally dropped it on his father's shoes.

After lunch, we coerced Jaime into taking a position in the bathtub. He declined at first, but the outcry from all of us persuaded him. The maestro leaned against the tile wall, watching the child he had grown to love.

Continual talking to Robertito about what we did and naming every item we touched formed an important aspect of the program. We suggested that Roby and Francisca shorten words and language forms. Jugo would become ju. La musica would become moo. In other areas, such as expressions of love or excitement, they maintained the full richness of speech.

During early afternoon, we had a change of guard at our home. Sasha returned to the city and Elise, a dear and loving friend, joined to help. Her bubbling, new-age, astrology-oriented vision added another specialness to the texture of moods and energy at the house. Until our crew returned from school, she positioned herself outside the bathroom door. Later, she shared with us her endeavor to envision the room filled with white light so that Robertito might see an even clearer path.

We spent our last full evening together with the Sotos trying to lay to rest any remaining beliefs which caused them to be uncomfortable or disturbed about their son or themselves. Francisca discussed a problematic relationship she had with a dear friend. In the midst of a dialogue, she apologized for dealing with material she thought irrelevant to her son and our common purpose.

"Everything in your life is relevant, pertinent," I suggested. "How often have people expressed anger toward someone they loved as an outlet for the anger they actually felt in another frustrating situation. And so, the frustrating situation or other problematic relationships affect other aspects of our lives. We're not compartmentalized, split into neat little sections. So, as we don't have set mechanisms for helping Robertito, neither do we have set subjects for helping ourselves."

Chapter 1 Continued