by R.A. Reader
Spending time with someone who has autism is an eye and ear opening experience
|An Afternoon in the World of Autism
We sit on the deck in William's back yard, painting rocks that I collected on one of our trips to the dwindling creek above Sugar Hollow Reservoir. Well, William paints. I watch, listen, and find myself learning. I brought Modge Podge, with the idea of making the rocks look wet permanently, but William wanted to know where the colors were. So I pulled out the crayons. (I'm nothing if not prepared). He proceeds to press the crayons hard onto the rocks. Then he uses the paint brushes and Modge Podge. LOTS of it. I separate the crayon usage from the brush usage from the Modge Podge right away, seeing no good coming from that combination!
"Stephanie is gone." He says that a lot, ever since meeting my college age daughter.I say, "Yes, she is gone." He says, "Stephanie is gone."He will repeat it that way until I say exactly what he says.
Then, "Oh shit." This from William as a drop of the now very liquid Modge Podge (which he mixed liberally with water) drips onto his lap,
An acorn drops onto the ground. William doesn't look up, just says, "The tree is falling." Then, a different sound, leaves shifting and lightly crunching on the ground. I see the deer slowly moving just behind the slight tree cover in the back yard, about 20 feet away.The deer are so quiet, so graceful. I wonder how anyone can shoot them and take pride in felling such peaceful, exotic creatures. I tell William the deer are behind him.Suddenly he looks up at me me with his boyish grin and says, "This is fantastic!"
"You are fantastic!" I say. I mean it.
"Stephanie is is going to school." William has a crush on my daughter.
I agree with him, watch him dip the crayon into the water and return to earnestly coloring one of the two rocks in front of him, even though the Modge Podge hasn't dried yet. He then carries on a fairly coherent and even logical conversation with someone I cannot see. For William, who has autism, this happens fairly often.
Crows caw raucously from the uppermost branches of nearby trees.William doesn't look up, but he says, :"Crows." Suddenly the crow sounds are mimicking each other -- one sounds off behind the porch, another answers to my left, yet another behind me somewhere on the other side of the house. It is the "Marco Polo" of the black, avian troublemakers.
Another sound, louder. William again does not look up or stop what he is doing, but says, "The tree is falling. On the dishwasher." He jerks his head to the side. "Around the corner." Sure enought, there is a contraption that could, conceivably, be an outside dishwasher.although it is not.
We hear the crunch and shifting of leaves again, ever so quiet. "The deer are back," William tells me. Then, "What's that?" But he knows, and answers his own question. "Crickets."
A few minutes later he tells me, "A truck." He hears it before I do!
Another sound, which he again hears before I do, ."Tiger is fighting." (Tiger is William's large grey striped cat). A minute later I hear the yowling of cats.
"I like...I like...oh shit." William can't remember. I don't mind.
Next he says, "Lawnmower." I've begun to realize that I actually CAN hear these things, but I'm so used to hearing them I automatically tune them out. William can't do that.He cannot tune out the sounds, nor can he not listen. He doesn't have a choice. He sees, hears and experiences the world differently than most people do.
And I have to wonder if maybe we are the ones who are missing out.