I can't speak for all autism parents, but certainly for Tim & I and also other autism parents we speak to there are occasional moments in time that I like to call Magic Moments. They are usually a bolt from the blue, and are usually something that most families take completely for granted and you have come to accept won't ever happen with your child.
Last night we had a Magic Moment.
River woke at 1:45am screaming. He doesn't scream in the night often, but when he does it's impossible to resettle him. I left him for a few minutes to see if he'd settle before going in to him. I expected to go through the usual routine with him- giving him a cuddle whilst he carried on crying, then trying to put him back in his cot & leaving the room whilst he went berserk, then waiting another 5 or 10 minutes to see if he'd resettle only for him to become beside himself & get himself in a right state, then bring him into our room to watch a DVD quietly. After half an hour, we'd attempt to put him back in his cot which would usually end in a massive meltdown & being brought back into our bed. He'd eventually fall asleep after a couple of hours.
However, last night didn't play out like that.
I picked River up out of his cot & he clung to me like a koala bear. I sat on his rocking chair cradling him, tummy to tummy, his head on my shoulder. Then all of a sudden, he stopped crying. His breathing calmed and he cuddled into me. For the first time since he was a newborn, he was soothed and emotionally comforted by a cuddle. I thought he'd fallen asleep, but his eyes were wide open but he was just staring at the ceiling, or into space, or occasionally at me. We sat there for an age in the dark, with only River's calm breath breaking the silence.
After about an hour I told him it was time to go in his cot- and he howled. So I kept him on my lap instead, and he calmed again instantly. My heart felt like it could burst. I was tired, my back was killing me & I had a dead arm but I wanted to cradle him all night. Most parents get to take this emotional attachment for granted and at some stage will work on teaching their baby or toddler to self-settle. With River, it's the opposite- he has needed to be on his own to fall asleep for so long, and having this level of attachment is such a major step for him.
At 3am, I called to Tim through the monitor to bring the sofa bed in. Again, River will never normally fall asleep next to me unless he's been up half the night & is watching a dvd in my bed. But after about half an hour of flapping around his room, he laid down with me and fell asleep. He woke around every hour & cried out, but was instantly comforted by me pulling him in close to me & having my arm over his chest.
I'm knackered today, but it was magical.
THAT'S what I like to call a Magic Moment.