For my first "true story Tuesday" I will share my introduction to Autism.
Its not outrageous or too amazing. But its true.
I was visiting my close friends' home in the South in the summer of 2001.
For some reason even though it was 8 years ago I can remember this day as though it was yesterday.
My friend had two couins with Autim - one 16 year old boy and one 6 year old girl.
One child ( the 16 year old boy)was living with his grandmother
Can I talk to him? I asked
" Just be careful.. he likes to collect paper ...he will be seriously upset if you have any paper with you or touch any paper of his"
He did not pay any attention to me even though I smiled at him several times and I was too afraid to say something.( he did not look scary at all BTW, its just that the way they had described him made him seem so different that I was scared with the fear of the unknown)
The next day we went to her Aunts house - a beautiful house on a side a lake.
Both the aunt and uncle were doctors and their daughter also was autistic.
As soon as I saw this little girl - I was struck by her charm.
She looked like a fairy and did not speak at all.
Her parents coaxed her to say "Hi" to me but she did not just gazing at me contemplatively.
I watched her fascinated.
After making small talk and trying (ineffectually) to help in the food preparation for the barbecue.( for all my friend and her family are an image of gracious Southern hospitality and lavish spreads are presented at each meal). After I realised that they were giving me little tasks - more to include me - than for the help I was providing - I gave up and sat in a chair
To my delight the little child came and sat in my lap and snuggled up to me
I was so happy to be singled out for the compliment- though her parents - conscientious as most Westerners are about personal space and not infringing on others - insisted she get up!
She never does this! they kept saying
Which of course made me feel all the more special.
I asked one of the people there what Autism was.
Autistic people have problems with the way they see things ...A book is a rectangle and a door is a rectangle and so they look the same
I puzzled on this for a long time trying to see the world from the little child's eyes ( though now of course I realize the description was not accurate at all )
I forgot about Autism for many years until I got to know it really really well 5 years later in the summer of 2006 when we wrestled with the questions of "Is it Autism or not?"
I still think of the little girl sometimes because R reminds me of her so much.
From the way his weight feels in my lap, to his charming wordless ways.
In the way people around him seem to feel privileged to get his hugs and kisses, to his direct gaze.
I got in touch with my dear friend again when I traveled to the on work to her city a year ago.
She said J is doing very well and is a very happy child.
I have hugged that sentence like a talisman this year
For another friends's introduction to autism. ( and this story gave me a thrill ) read my friend Lindsey's
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