I have alluded before to Joshua being a happy and sociable boy, and part of his winning charm lies in his smile. It is very true : when you are smiling, the whole world smiles with you. His whole face lights up, including his eyes, and it is an infectious grin too. Joshua has no difficulty making and maintaining eye contact, and so he makes it very clear who his beam is aimed at and it can melt hearts. It is often accompanied with a pointing finger, if he sees you across a crowded room, just to emphasis his target or he may get very close to your face , and smile right in your personal space, then there is no doubt who is smile is intended for.
It is a very engaging skill and one that can overcome all of his communication difficulties. We can be having a serious debate in a Doctor’s consulting room, which Joshua has mostly ignored, with his head on his lap and then he will suddenly sit up and catch the consultant’s eye with one of his disarming smiles and they instantly lose track of what they were saying and respond to him, well those with real people skills that is and in my experience this is not a talent that they all share.
I too tend to use the smile as a communication technique and aim to elicit a smile, from strangers, as soon as I can, so perhaps Joshua is simply learning what he has seen his mother do. I am usually successful but memorably failed on two stressful experiences in Joshua’s life : firstly with the registrar, when we went to register Joshua’s birth after we finally got him home after 11 days in special care, she was a stern lady who stuck to her script and woud not crack a smile to share in our relief to have brought our baby son home despite whatever I tried. Secondly, many years later, once we had decided to look around local special schools, while Joshua was still at mainstream primary. We were shown around one by the very serious headteacher, who did not respond to my efforts at all, but remained stoney-faced throughout the tour and meeting. We instantly rejected the school as this was not somewhere that we wanted our happpy-go -lucky boy to spend anytime at all and I had to query whether or not she was in the right job. You should take education seriously and leading a special school is no doubt an onerous task , but this was an extreme response to anxious parents and did nothing to reassure us as she was not even warm with the children as we passed through classrooms.
Whereas my favourite paediatricians smile and engage with Joshua and there is such a lot of laughter in his current school, that I realise how important smiling and laughter is to me and to our smiley son. Even on the darkest of days, there is usually something to be found to smile at, however small.