It is a common phenomenon with autistic children that they often miss very obvious visual clues. It is also true, that many of them have such finely honed visual acuity that minute discrepancies loom large for them. It is the fact that these statements can both be true at the same time, that can be so disconcerting to a parent.
Spouse returns from work to find me and the children in a heap on the sofa with the saintly baby sitter hard at domestic duties in the kitchen. I have one child under each arm and the third sprawled across my lap. One picks as the loose threads on my elderly shirt, the other runs his finger nail along the very finely knitted ribbing. Because the sleeve is tapered from shoulder to wrist this means that there is a herringbone effect at the seam. It is uneven and the cause of considerable angst to junior. It should be even and uniform, such irregularity is the source of a great deal of irritation.
“So you're much more perky today!” he says in a surprised tone of voice.
“Indeed I am! Went out and bought a few groceries.”
“Really! So you drove the car?” Junior perks up at the mention of 'car,' to add his two pennarth, “Mommy is betterer if she is driving!” He grins at me conspiratorially, rewarding me with perfect eye contact.
“Drug free honest!” I add to dispel any niggling concerns of his regarding negating our insurance coverage due to consumer error. Senior chips in. It's almost like a family discussion, “mom, in not in bed. Mom is downstairs playing wiv us…..er, well…..not playing, she is…….she is sitting wiv us.” He head snaps back and forth between his father and me, checking that he has correctly described the situation, which he has!
“But your nose is still numb.”
“Yes, how did you know that?” I prod the end to see if any feeling is likely to return within the next 24 hour period. I assume that the pins and needles sensation is a positive one.
“Did you get any funny looks?”
“Don't think so, only when I tried to speak to the check out woman.” I am aware that I still sound as if I have a mouth full of marbles after the jaw surgery.
“Have you looked in a mirror today perchance?”
“No thank you!” Perish the thought! My face isn't as swollen or discoloured as it was a couple of weeks ago, but I don't feel the need to check. The horizontal one, lying on my lap continues to read her book, oblivious to the 'family' conversation going on around her, but what else can you expect from your typical kids?
He reaches for a damp cloth and starts to dab gently at the blob of gristle that used to function as a nose, “you need to remember to check in a mirror or you'll terrify the locals. How come none of you told mum that she had another nosebleed?”
Moral – you can think that you’re “normal” but who really is?