Monday, July 27, 2009

True Story Tuesday: My first introduction to Autism

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

Someone answered

" 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
For more fun with True Story Tuesday and participate yourself visit Rachel and Mr Daddy at


Rachel said...

Oh K! Thank you for sharing this sweet and memorable story. So many people don't know what to do when they are first introduced to someone with autism. I love how you shared with true care and appreciation.

I am grateful that you have shared R with us - it has helped me appreciate the different ways that our families show us love - and how infinitely special each one of us is.

Thank you again - this touched me deeply.

Anonymous said...

This was sweet. My first introduction to Autism was just a description. I asked someone what Autism was and she said, "kids that don't speak". I guess that can be part of it, but it's such a poor description because whether there is speech or not, Autism is so much more than that. I love how you see the beautiful and good things in people. =)

Brandi said...

They truly are amazing children. My friend's 7 year old daughter is autistic. She communicates largely through drawing. Her mom works tirelessly with her, and every little thing Madison accomplishes is so BIG. Maddie will climb into her mom's arms now and rub the side of her cheek. It's beautiful to watch, especially knowing how long my friend has waited for that. Thanks for sharing. :)

Pam D said...

It sounds as if you were being prepared for your path.. how cool is that? I grew up in the 60s going to church with a family with an autistic child. He was about my age, and it was hard for me to understand why he was so "different". There wasn't as much talking about things back then. My mom told me (sometime in past couple of years) that the doctors really, really urged the parents to institutionalize the boy, but they refused. I'm so glad, for him AND for them, that they did. He had such a bond, especially with his mom. Thanks for giving a glimpse into your world...

Just Add Walter said...

what a great post. thanks for sharing!

Lyndsey said...

I loved this. Thank you for sharing (and plugging my blog. ;) You're too sweet)

Foursons said...

My 7 year old never said "I love you" until he was 3 years old. I can't tell you how that made me feel. The memory still makes me smile.

Pam said...

What an awesome sweet story. Thanks so much for sharing. Even at my age, which is old, I am still open to learning new things, thanks for allowing me to learn a bit more about this through your eyes.

Jane Anne said...

I enjoyed reading your story. It reminds me to appreciate little things and gives me more of an appreciation of what parents of autistic children must go through.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful Post!

Mr. Daddy said...

Loved the story K, it is always a joy to visit your blog and read about life through your eyes.

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