A few months ago I went out and bought a mattress. I then threw out the couch in my living room and promptly put the mattress in the living room instead. My husband was aghast at my plan originally, after all mattresses are for bedrooms and sleeping and couches are for living rooms and sitting. But there was a theory to my outwardly odd idea…
What if Mr. N would accept physical touch more if he could slowly inch his way towards it? What if by having such a large space to sprawl on with his siblings and myself on a daily basis he would eventually become more comfortable with touching other people? What if by exposing him to the constant opportunity for physical touch he eventually started to view those opportunities as a positive thing?
So theory in mind, and a tentative hope in my heart for a time when Mr. N would be perhaps accept regular physical contact with those of us that loved him I changed our living room and made it quite an unconventional area. I bought 1/2 dozen big pillows and scattered them about the new “couch” and sprawled out. He was adamant at first that no one be touching him even a little, not a leg, or arm or torso could be in direct physical contact with anyone of us. But slowly, as the days went by it changed…First he didn’t notice when my leg was “accidentally” touching his…Still many more days passed and then one otherwise gloomy afternoon he plopped down beside me, and his whole left leg was against me, but he appeared to not notice! A few weeks went by with that being the level of contact he could handle, and believe me when I say I was thrilled with just that, but it didn’t stop there…Then it was him actively initiating contact by laying snuggled up to someone….Just last night he tried to stay up after he was told it was time for bed, what “tactic” did he use? He kept asking for kisses and of course his dad and I kept obliging!
There are still moments when he’s overwhelmed and will say “Don’t look at me” or “Don’t talk to me” and while he’s told he has to say it politely, (we are helping him to learn sentences he can use to say the same thing in a polite manner) he still has a right to vocalize how he is feeling and to decide what level of interaction he wants with someone else.
While my living room might look strange to some I don’t really care, because it has been SO worth it. Having a mattress in our living room has helped Mr. N to be okay with physical touch. While it’s not a constant yet that he actively seeks out physical touch, he does regularly seek it out now, and to finally be able to show my youngest son that I love him through touch, through snuggles and hugs and kisses upon his soft brow, all while he’s still actually awake and aware of it, that dear readers is a blessing that brings tears of joy to my eyes.