Safety Guy got up in a great mood today. He's watching clips from Top Gear on YouTube, laughing and commenting and exclaiming over the auto-related mayhem. It's so nice to hear him relaxed and happy. And, of course, Top Gear includes a bunch of Safety Guy's favorite things: cars and vehicles of all descriptions, combined with crazy stunts, crashes, jumps, explosions, auto trivia, traffic situations and over-the-top guy humor. So, it's the perfect show for him. He's been edgy and moody lately, and overreacting more than usual to small annoyances and interpersonal frictions (especially with his sister), so a happy morning like this is a real gift.
His tone of voice and the random sounds he makes are the surest clues to his frame of mind. Even when he was very little, we could tell from his vocalizations if all was right with his world. When he's upset, it's in his voice; when he's frustrated or angry, it's obvious, and when he's happy, it's just as plain. When he was little we could tell when he was in a really good mood from the sound effects he was making: car/train noises and crashing noises were sure indicators that all was right in his world. The total lack of those noises meant something was occupying his attention, which could be good or bad. And of course, his words and pitch have always been obvious indicators of his frame of mind. The higher the pitch of his voice and the increasing lack of lower register tones as he speaks always indicate his deteriorating patience and increased frustration or anger. We've learned to encourage him to be be mindful of his own voice and pitch, to help him hear in his own voice how he's reacting and escalating. (Likewise, his father and I have had to set the example, maintaining a calm demeanor and pitch when he's upset and escalating toward a meltdown - even if we're so frustrated with him or the situation that we'd like to fly off the handle ourselves. The hardest part of behavior modification has always been modifying OUR behavior before we can modify HIS.) Encouraging him to lower his voice, speak calmly, and take deep, slow breaths all help him self-monitor and recover during times of stress.
I know all kids (and grownups) are like that to some extent, showing their moods in their voice, but for him it's always seemed to be that way and much more so. I think it's his Aspergers, his total characteristic spectrum honesty: he doesn't (and perhaps can't) hide how he really feels. There's no subterfuge or social mind games with him. What you hear/see from him is what you get, all the time. That's one aspect of his Aspergers that I actually appreciate - that lack of pretense and put-on. His heart is on his sleeve, so to speak. Of course, such brutal 24/7 honesty has its drawbacks (when it veers into bluntness that crosses into rudeness), but in general I much prefer that to deceit or mind games.
He has such an infectious laugh, it's impossible not to smile along with him. He hasn't sounded this cheerful in weeks. He's even making his sound effects today, mimicking the crashes and motor noises he's hearing on his car show. (He's such an uncanny mimic that I've had to ask him to NOT do it while I'm driving. Hearing honking horns and crashing noises from the back seat are NOT conducive to undistracted driving.) It's a good morning, and I'm thankful for this not-so-small blessing.