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February 5, 2011 / paperkids

A quiet mind

I recently watched a video on youtube of a  mother and her teenage son who has severe autism and epilepsy.  She was asking for advice and help because her son wakes in the middle of the night hitting himself in the head.  He is constantly hitting himself.  I watched the video – her face filled with exhaustion and his looking off, a few bumps scattered on his forehead.  I couldn’t help but burst into tears.  Most people will never know the emotional and physical devastation of watching your child harm themselves, seemingly unable to control their bodies.   I watched with a feeling of heartbreak and perplexity.  I sometimes see these kinds of behaviors in Emma, just on a much smaller scale.  She sometimes bangs her head if she’s upset or even when she isn’t.  She scratches herself, pinches herself and at times bites herself.  She goes through phases with her behaviors and sometimes they are worse than other times.   I stared on at this mother’s  desperation and thought that I would  have no idea what to tell her.   Why would her son wake up in the middle of the night to injure himself?  How does he feel inside?

Emma looking at the sky, age 3

Sometimes it’s hard for Emma to explain her actions and her feelings even though she’s communicating now.  Many times she types out “I am tired”, so I know that this plays a role in her world.  I don’t think I’d have the answers for that mom even if I knew everything about Emma because  all these kids are so different.   I decided to tell Emma about the video and inquire again about her own behaviors.  She’s been going through a rough patch and I’ve been trying so hard to understand and believe her when she types out “I can’t help it”.   I explained the story of the boy in the video and asked her what she thought as I held up  the ipad.

Emma:  Sometimes I want to hurt myself to ease the racing thoughts

Me:  “Do you have a lot of racing thoughts?”

Emma:  yes

Me:  “What does hurting yourself do?  How does it help?”

Emma:  It helps me to focus

Me:  “But do you ever hurt yourself and you can’t help it?”

Emma:  yes

I remain baffled in many ways.  A while back, during a particularly violent outburst, Emma typed out, “I yearn to tell you how I process things”.

I want so much to understand all that lies in Emma’s mind so that I could know exactly what she feels and how I could help her more.  It’s as foreign to my understanding as another language, only this is a language that I could never possibly learn.  My only knowledge of it will come from Emma’s words typed out onto the keyboard.

I thank God everyday that I can know as much as I do about her world.  I may not know everything in Emma’s mind and never will.  But I take such great comfort in knowing that God does and remains with her and in her in those depths where no one else can enter.  I know that He gives her a quiet mind.

This song by Blue October always makes me think of Emma.  She “really loves”  it too.   Like I said, we listen to a lot of music around here.  And I love this slide show.  I found it on  youtube a while back.  I’m not sure who made it, but I like the imagery – I’m a sucker for music with pictures.  Unfortunately, you’ll have to click the Watch in on youtube link.


Leave a Comment
  1. MSOTS / Feb 5 2011 8:01 pm

    I can see why you and Emma love the song and images. I listened to and watched it several times; such a positive message! And the repeating message “I love you”; can’t beat THAT!

  2. Trisha / Feb 8 2011 2:02 am

    Such a sweet picture of Emma – I remember that backyard so fondly 🙂

  3. grandma / Feb 10 2011 3:52 am

    Sometimes there are no words for what we feel, even when we can speak.
    How do you describe the way that the world overwhelms you, or that you sometimes wonder who you are? Or how enraptured you are by beauty? Or how overcome you are by love, by loving?
    There is comfort in knowing that we are real. That we are part of something. That God watches out for us. Emma says “I can’t help it.” If she were going to write Him a letter, I wonder what she would say to God about this?
    God gives her your hand, her father’s hand. Your guidance is wise.

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