Not long after he did a ‘runner” at the beach. We were leaving the beach and had gone a long way, again about 300 yards / metres, when he suddenly reversed direction and took off back to where we had been camped on the sand. This time I didn’t reappear after his period of staring at the sand where we had been, for about 15 minutes.
He decided it was time to go. I can still see him there: retracing his steps, – lurching in the direction we had left; but then going back to the beach spot, looking puzzled and reversing, retracing his steps again. Heartbreaking. But I was determined to wait this time. It was only when he started moving about aimlessly, frantically and crying, and some adults had come to help, that I reappeared. This time he was pleased to see me. (I don’t know what the adults thought of me though..!)
Thereafter my boy was again most urgent and anxious to never lose sight of me or his mum, and this was my first revelation: he could put aside his “False Own World Sense of Protection” and if the incentive were strong enough, force himself out of his Own World, to look around and see where others were, for his protection. He could make the choice of being in his Own World, or not – he was not hard-wired to remain there, like it or not..!
In the above case it was negative motivation that had forced him into the Real World, but it showed it was possible for him to voluntarily make the transition. To “decide” *
* I have highlighted the word “Decide” because it is an intrinsic element in the D.O.O.R – Real World Training, to “Decide” to enter the Real World, and has its roots in observations like the ones described earlier and here.
More revelations were to come. Our boy at about 7 was invited to a schoolmate’s party (we were friendly with his mum) at an indoor sports centre. The game I recall vividly was the beanbag one. The party group formed up into two teams, each taking half of the court. The aim was to hit the other teams’ members with your beanbag, scoring a point for your side with each hit.
Naturally from the strategy point of view the aim was to stand far back enough from the court’s centre line where the two sides met so that you could usually dodge the opponents’ beanbags, but close enough to it to hit them with a long throw of your own beanbag.
Our boy stood right on the centre line, well ahead of all his other team members, and was of course the focus of the other teams’ attention. He was peppered unmercifully. He was furious that he was receiving all the fire, and couldn’t understand why. He would reach for a beanbag that had just hit him and by the time he had thrown it back had been hit by three or four other bags. There was no danger of damage other than shock, so I didn’t interfere.
Time came to break for the birthday food, laid out along the long trestle tables set up for that purpose. And so the 15 or so party members took their places. I was astounded: my son, MY SON, was looking, really looking at the others..!
You could see him assessing what they were doing, interacting by passing food along to those nearby as it came near him, even conversing a bit. He was clearly “there”, in mind as well as body, as un-autistic as the others.
What was going on? It seemed clear – the shock of all those beanbags hitting him had jolted him right out of his Own World. His sense of serious danger was still resonating in him so strongly so as to outweigh the more pleasurable security of his Own World. Building on the previous revelation, the incident showed me that real interaction with others was also possible, given strong enough motivation.
Of course reinstituting such extreme provocation would not be a desirable way to repeat his interaction, it would drive him mad if it became a regular thing, but lesser forms of motivation, hopefully, would achieve the same end…