Guiding Ethan’s energy, finding discipline in passion

What to do with all of Ethan’s energy and intrigue and how to make something beautiful of it?

I once tried dance classes where he ran in circles the entire lesson, only to turn up the next week and show the teacher the entire dance routine she had taught – then proceed to run in circles again.

Then there was Karate. That was an interesting lesson never to be repeated…

image credit: Joanna Wharton

Image credit: Joanna Wharton.

Recently the collective sum of all Ethan’s quirks made sense in circus acrobatics, where his petite, tactile, fearless, charismatic self takes the stage – and the risks – to makes us smile. And he has been found to be ever encouraging in this pursuit, often coaching fellow team members.

One day the piano was discovered by chance while visiting a friend. The weight of the keys resonated more than sound and destiny awoke within him. Serendipity led me to an amazing tutor to extend this epiphany, which took weeks of patience before eventually seeing progress in all those little regular things that Asperger’s challenges us with.

For two terms I cringed for each hour, listening to anything but music, nor did it resemble a lesson, but I didn’t want to give up.

Then one day, for no apparent reason… He did NOT enter the house through the cat flap. He did NOT greet the piano with a melodramatic Gothic death march. He did NOT touch every gadget in the room between each note. He played piano, he followed instruction and wrote in his book. Somewhere, his heart, mind, fingers (and bottom) had connected into the same rhythm. Soon melodies will come.


Image credit: Joanna Wharton.

Charming the pastor of a city cathedral with rare interest in the majestic pipe organ scored Ethan a personal recital during the organist’s lunch break. For half an hour the church echoed with what I could only hear as the resounding love of God back to his little brave soul.

His curiosity and commitment leads to amusement, all too quickly otherwise perceived as bad or annoying behaviour. Take for instance the morning he wanted to know who opens school. This question must have been burning in him for some time. Then at five AM one morning I heard the front door open and pitter-pattering down the stairs. Rousing myself to follow the sounds I discovered a note on the front door “Off to school!” and sure enough, (thankfully,) around the corner was a little lad in full uniform talking to a very concerned cleaner. Satisfied he had found his answer, Ethan came home with me and passed the hours until school was open – to students.

During School Book Week, Ethan was in full character based on One Blue Sock (Stephan Michael King). By full character I mean he hopped on one foot for the entire day… even during the parade march. He did not get a single prize, or encouraging mention. They hadn’t even heard of the book… we left that school.

Redeeming his joy of characters was the day the little Mad Hatter in all of us filled the new school with wonder and warm hearts along the neighbourhood high-street.

image credit: Joanna Wharton

Image credit: Joanna Wharton.

image credit: Joanna Wharton

Image credit: Joanna Wharton.

“I like to stay up late. That’s when the house is quiet”, Ethan discloses. He shares a valid point. But for a child to be up until one AM, as he had been regularly almost since birth is beyond the limits of engaging with his free spirit.

After trialing every patient and holistic method, a prescription of the natural hormone meletonin at eight years of age, bought a new level of sanity to the house.

I can control the time of his slumber, and find he wakes in the morning easily, happily. Noah gains a morning playmate, and I too now have precious health-restoring sleep.

Just the three of us

The father of the boys walked out on us when Ethan was four and Noah was just three.

I have never had funding, grants, psychologists or behaviour-modification medication. I discovered the most valuable resource is myself. I am mum.

Layer by layer I had to strip away all my fears, my expectations of Ethan, of life, of my community… and discover his language before he learnt mine.

I sought to anchor my life in peace and understanding and create a home and a family that is anchored in that. Fear has no place through my doors. Only learning, only patience, only hope. I am to give him the gift of self-actualisation – that he is a gift.

He will always be in my face and on my toes, will always prefer to sit on a table to eat and work. I realise that relying on him to simply get dressed appropriately is asking too much. His sensors are still highly tuned and that affects his mood. He is still clinically underweight.

Finding his way home from school, he may never walk in a straight line. I no longer mind that he likes to spin, since informing me that “spinning makes me feel close to God”. I save my frustrations for other matters and rejoice that he become fluid between worlds.

The mainstream world can wait as I find my way to discover a boutique-size school and community that reflects the values we require.

Ethan and I found a trust in one another. My love for him, creates more life for him, I see that. As he is loved and received, he matures… and that is his story.

image credit: Joanna Wharton

Image credit: Joanna Wharton.

Talk tenderly to me. Enter gently to my place. Come with me – come in, and guide me from where I live.

Stay with me. See the kaleidescopic swirls of wonder that take me captive… you may like it there.

Joanna Wharton. 

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported.

View ratings
Rate this article

Leave a Comment