The 'Ah-Ha' Moment I Had when My Child with Autism Cried over a Lost Blanket

Today, like every Monday and Tuesday, I picked my daughter Piper up from school to take her to therapy. I've grown to love this routine for many reasons. I love the one-on-one time we share in the car. I love how proud she is when she finishes each session with Kate, her speech therapist. More than anything, I cherish the look of elation on her face when she spots me walking toward her. She hugs me with every ounce of love insider of her, and leaves her friends and teachers with a smile, an emphatic wave, and a heartfelt "Goodbye!" She brings light and pure, innocent happiness whenever she goes.

Today, though, something just felt "off" as soon as I laid eyes on her. Almost immediately, guilt set in. A rainstorm had slowed my drive. I was five minutes behind, and instead of sitting in her normal spot by the front entrance, she was with her teacher, loading her friends into the vehicle that takes them home. Her teacher reported that she'd had another fantastic day, but I could see she was hurting. I assumed by being a few minutes late, I had thrown off her routine and had been the cause of her melancholy spirit. She didn't say goodbye to anyone. She clung to me and stared over my shoulder at the school.

As I carried her towards the car, she let out a whimper I'd never heard before. I stopped walking and attempted to meet her gaze. "I'm sorry, sweetheart," I said. "Are you sad because you didn't get to ride home with your friends?"

Her eyes were still fixed on the school. "No. I don't want that."

With a heavy heart, I buckled her into her seat. It was when I fastened the last clip that I saw large tears rolling down her cheeks. My sweet child was crying, silently. She looked completely heartbroken. I tried to hide my own heartbreak and once again asked her what was bothering her. Because she still struggles to consistently carry on conversation, her direct response stopped me in my tracks.

"I want my MiMi, and I can't get her!" (MiMi is her baby blanket, her security.)

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