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Spontaneous Giggles and Tears



It is pretty obvious...when someone does or says something funny, in that moment, we laugh...sometimes so hard that our cheeks hurt. When we are sad, crying sometimes is the only reason why we are so sad helps too.

So why does Nolan laugh and cry for unknown reasons? It seems to be one of the big mysteries of Autism. Why does Nolan inappropriately laugh and cry?

Just last night at bedtime, Nolan busted out laughing while he was brushing his teeth. The first thing I did was ask, "Nolan, what is so funny?!?"

"Please tell me, Nolan, please!!"

I got no response, which is usual for us in a situation like this. Is he laughing about something that happened earlier that day? The day before? The week before? I wanted to know so badly! I wanted to keep the giggles coming by having that back and forth conversation about what was so hilarious to him. I wanted to laugh along with him! As a parent of Autism, this can be so frustrating.

So what did I do? I just laughed along with him so he knew I was trying to make that connection with him.

I wanted him to feel that I had interest in why he was laughing. Maybe when he saw me laughing, he thought I knew what was so funny to him in that moment? Maybe that is why the intensity of his laughter went into high gear? We just stopped the teeth brushing and he hugged me so tightly while he was laughing hysterically. At that point I thought ...who cares what we are laughing about, we were having so much fun doing it! Those are moments I treasure.

It is not only the spontaneous laughter that baffles me, unfortunately the tears come out of nowhere too. Last week Nolan was playing a game on his iPad. He seemed content and happy while he was playing his game. All of the sudden, he burst into tears. I don't mean a few tears here and there, these were tears of extreme sadness. His cute smile turned into a frown and I watched the tears pour down his cheeks. Of course I asked him, "Nolan, why are you so sad?"

"Please tell me, Nolan, please!!"

Just as I got no response from him while he was laughing, the same thing happened during his crying spell. Nothing. No response from him at all. Hearing him whimper made me so sad.

So what did I do? I sat next to him and comforted him as best I could. Maybe when he felt my comforting touch, he thought I knew why he was crying? Maybe that is why the tears stopped?

I intend to keep asking Nolan why he is so happy or so sad with the hope that one day he will be able to tell me. I just know that day will come! Maybe someday this mystery will be solved!

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