|These pictures are screen shots of a movie where Ben dances to the song "Gangnam Style" (see television behind him). I included these shots because they always make me smile and, well, they are awesome!|
Theory of mind has been described as a person’s inability to understand and identify the thoughts, feelings, and intentions of others. Some believe that autistic individuals do not develop theory of mind and therefore lack empathy.
This week I start back to school. The teachers return a week before the students so that we can prepare our classes and attend professional development trainings. My parents, wonderful people that they are, have flown across the country to spend a week at a condo on the beach with Ben, while my husband and I work. Keep in mind, Ben and I just spent the last month at their home in Indiana, and, most recently, Ben spent the last week at their house without me. My parents and Ben just flew back to Florida yesterday. My parents then dropped Ben off for one night at home while they set up the condo, and the next evening we headed for dinner by the beach, with the plan being to leave Ben for a week at the beach house. Are you following this? We were more than a little anxious about how he would handle yet another change to his routine. How would he adjust to being away from the comforts of home, after just being reunited with all of his toys and games (not to mention Mommy and Daddy)? My parents and I discussed the transition at length and I was prepared, if necessary, to spend the night at the condo myself to make the process smoother.
After dinner, the time had come to say our goodbyes. My husband prepared Ben for our departure.
He explained to Ben, “Mommy and Daddy have to go back to work this week, but you get to stay and have lots of fun at the condo. You get to go to the pool and play at the beach. We’ll be at work, but we’ll see you for dinner on Wednesday.”
Then came time for the hugs goodbye.
And we all watched and waited, holding our breaths to see how Ben would react.
After hugging by husband goodbye, Ben leaned in to offer me a hug.
I felt a lump forming in my throat. I tried my best to keep it light.
“Have fun this week, Buddy. I’ll see you soon,” I said, tousling his hair.
Then, as he pulled away, his eyes met mine briefly and he said, “Sorry, Mommy.”
It took me a minute to process those two simple words, but when I did, they completely blew me away. Here is my translation of what Ben meant by those two huge, power packed words: “I’m really excited to get to spend a week at the condo doing my favorite things with grandparents whom I love. I always have fun with them, and I feel comfortable here. I feel sorry for you that you have to miss out because you have to go back to work. I wish you could be with me too, sharing this new adventure, but I understand. You are a grown up and have to work. Sorry, Mommy.”
And so the score stands:
Ben- 1, Theory of Mind- O