At our house, the red couch is where all the important stuff
in life happens. It didn’t start out
that way. In fact, the red couch is located
in an area of our house no one really uses at all – the living room. But, several years ago, Elliott, now 10,
started to utilize the red couch as a place to go when he needed to calm down
or to be alone for a moment or two.
Since his diagnosis with autism at age 2, he has dealt with emotional
regulation challenges, and although they have changed and morphed (thankfully)
through the years, it is still at times quite difficult for him. The red couch became his safe zone when his
world felt unmanageable, and now, in large part, we all have come to feel that
connection in one way or another. If
it’s a big deal – the red couch is where is happens.
When serious talks need to happen, Elliott might request
“Mom, I need you at the red couch”, or, as sometimes happens in families,
if someone makes a choice to do something crazy, oh like charging $2,000 of legos on my credit
card, Tom and I might request – in voices struggling to stay calm – to see
Elliott at the red couch.
Last week, when Elliott walked into the kitchen, with tears
running down his face, asking me why his autism has to make things so hard for
him – I dropped everything, and met him
at the red couch. And while my heart was
breaking into a million pieces because I, too, hate how hard some things can be
for him, we were able to talk about life in a way we’ve never been able to before
– and that was a moment I’ll never forget.
As hard as it is for him to be at a place where these things are
starting to make sense to him, it is an amazing accomplishment, and something I
could not even have imagined even 2 years ago. Of course, it happened at the red couch.
Jotting down some of the craziness that is our life is something
that helps me through some of our more challenging moments, and reminds me that
we have so much to celebrate and be thankful for. Having autism in your family is often quite
isolating, and in some way, writing helps me to connect with others and to
share experiences . So, even if you are
unable to truly come and chat with me on the red couch, please know you are
always welcome here. And on Friday,
while we will be “lighting it up blue” for Autism Awareness Day at
our house, rest assured, we’ll be doing our best to wrestle some of life’s more
challenging topics – from our red couch.