Hold me tight: #thisisAutism

He has always been a cuddle bug. As a baby, he loved to burrow into the crook of my neck, let out a milky sigh, and nod off to dreamland. He will snuggle in bed, on the couch, and latch on like a sloth if you’re on the move.

He would waddle around from the time he was a toddler, find a narrow spot between couches/under chairs, and squeeze in. I would crouch down, worrying he was stuck, but he would swat my hands away. To this day, he craves deep pressure — he will walk up and insist, “Amma will hug Nirav.”

And I love it. I’m a hugger — my love language is definitely physical touch. The warmth of holding my child close, smelling in his vanilla shampoo, and sharing deep affection helps me recalibrate after a long day.

When left to his own devices, he contorts himself into the funniest shapes. I have walked into a room, looking for him, only to find his head poking out from between an arm and a leg. Or the time we were running late for an appointment, and after a panicky ten minutes, found him squished under our bed.

Ironically, he hates those weighted vests and blankets. We went through a few before he announced, “I am all done with heavy blankets.” So it’s not just the deep pressure he wants, but also the human connection. It took me a few years to understand that.

I’ve seen people complain that their teenage daughter hates physical attention or their son is too old to keep close. All I can hope is that, even when he is old and grey, he will walk up to me and insist, “Amma will hug Nirav.”

At which point, I’ll stand up creakily, kick my cane away and hold my child in the warmest embrace.

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