I was thinking about how babies react to different people. William seems to be happier with me than with his Nanna, for example. Now, the interesting part is, I haven’t had the experience of raising kids of my own, so I really don’t know what I am doing. But when I hold William, I find that I hold him tightly, unless he wants to move. I try to give him as free a range of movement as possible without letting him fall. He likes being by the sliding door that looks out on some trees. Right now they are turning colors, so maybe the color in the scene attracts his attention.
I also move continuously, when I am standing up with him in my arms. Perhaps he likes my voice. I talk to him in a quiet voice the entire time I hold him. I try making my voice as deep as possible. I have found that this has had a calming effect on pets I have had. But most importantly, I try paying attention to where his attention is directed. Of course I react to his facial_expressions and he reacts to mine, when he his gaze is directed toward me.
I have less success when we’re on the floor playing with his assorted music machines, squeaky rubber blocks, rings with plastic charms on them – which I am told are for teething – and stuffed animals of different sizes. Sometimes William’s interests exceed his grasp – literally – and he tips over. I try not to let that happen. He is not that good at going from a tummy position to a non-tummy position yet. He gets really frustrated.
When I was a kid, my older brother who was autistic, low functioning and nonverbal, lived at home with us. I probably honed my observational skills back then. I had practically no feedback from him indicating a successful interaction; maybe any success I did have didn’t register with me. At any rate, reactions from my brother were nothing like the immediate reactions of a smile or a face of discomfort from William in response to my funny noise or a too-tight-a-squeeze I give him.
I would venture to say that, for the most part, siblings of mentally and physically handicapped individuals develop increased sensitivity and are better able to anticipate or recognize how to respond effectively to needs of other people. This is a good skill to have, especially with infants.