As I type this, my bedroom door is shut, as is yours, but I can still hear you gently humming and reciting the lines to a film you’re watching (I can’t quite work out which- but I needn’t worry as you’ll soon come and tell me).
Your noises are my silence. For all of my 19 years (nearly 20!) on this planet, pretty much every day has been flavoured with the unmistakable sound of your stimming, and I’ve only come to really appreciate and listen to it over this last year- and by god was I missing out before.
For most of my younger years your stimming was something I was always used to, was never bothered by and was generally just background noise. Aaaaannd then … inevitably came my obnoxious and self absorbed teenage years, when I was suddenly conscious of every noise when my friends were around.
Suddenly your outbursts of noise and arm movements weren’t a norm, but something I was embarrassed by. Christ, I’d like to take this moment to apologise for 14 year old Millie – she was clearly trying to impress some people that most likely didn’t even care. I am happy and grateful I have outgrown this phase! I am sorry for that.
I apologise for telling you to “shh” when we were in restaurants, I know how happy garlic bread makes you, and bloody hell, who gave me the right to take away that joy??? I apologise for telling you to “put your arms down” when we went to Bonfire Nights together, you love fireworks and I feel so guilty that I made you suppress that happiness. I apologise for not letting you be you, because imagine if someone told me to stop smiling every time I did? How bizarre would that be?
Over the last year I’ve done so much reflecting and learning, and my knowledge and appreciation of ASC has completely transformed the way I view your stimming (amongst other wonderful things your autism brings out in you). On the occasion you’re not around, the house feels extremely empty. Not because you’re not there to keep tabs on what foods we need to buy, and not because you’re not there to take a century buttering your toast in the morning: but because the silence…is actually silent? They say you don’t appreciate what you’ve got until it’s gone, and boy is that true. And although sometimes a break from home is great for both us and yourself, I always eagerly await your return so I can listen to your distinctive hum.
Love you big bro,
Millie and her mum, Niki Ashley work at Little Gate. Connor, Millie’s brother, is a Work Trainee with autism. Millie also published her blog here.