We took a long time to understand what the hand coming from the handbasin in the bathroom really meant.
Now that we do it always makes us smile.
Billy lost his smile as a baby. He would only smile to himself and no longer outwardly to others.
Communication was exceedingly difficult and he rarely uttered single words or less frequently two word or three word phrases.
From waking to bed time he refused eye contact, seemed to live in his own little world and was constantly restless, continually making the same endless gestures with no apparent reason.
He would flap his hands while rocking back and forth with seemingly untiring effort. When he moved from room to room it was often on tip toes as if he was carefully negotiating the space between where he was coming from and where he was going to
We painstakingly learnt, mostly by trial and error, and over time, what we needed to do.
The most useful aid was silence and calm. We kept our own noises to a strict minimum in his presence. All arguments and disputes, because there were many, were always held as far away from him as possible.
As long as we avoided innovation and continued as normal, family life was good.
I think our greatest frustration was not being able to cover him with our love. No kisses or hugs, no caresses and as little body contact as possible.
There were those extremely rare occasions, when Billy would suddenly be there, almost within touching distance, and you’d just want to throw your arms around him and hold him close, but suddenly he was at the other side of the room again, shut off and fully concentrated in something incomprehensible, again.
He used to have frequent meltdowns, but over time they seem to have flared up less and less. In overwhelming situations he used to totally lose any control where he would lash out, kicking and screaming. I think we have mostly learnt how to avoid them now.
When he attained double digits we gave him a Magic Set for Christmas.
He keeps it with him at all times. He loves to take each item out and lines them up so that they touch. Then he spends as much time putting them all back into the box and closing the box with a large elastic that he twangs against the box lid a seemingly uncountable number of times.
So it is a very special occasion when we spot the hand coming from the washbasin.
We take it as if it was a little wave hello.
So one of us takes the hand and puts it on the floor near to where Billy waits, his Magic Box open, a very slight smile on his lips.
After a while he takes the hand from the floor and puts it back in his box. He pursues his routines.
It’s going to be better. I just know it.