I come across one of these beings during a play-date. He has the lingo. He has the looks. Sleek, slim, sharp. A lean, mean, ragamuffin type. A heart breaker in the making. The language of a 13 year old – a tween. All the patter, right tone, correct demeanour, the angle of his chin, the tilt of his face, the tension in his body, the strut and attitude, all perfect. He is an exact replica by design or default. [translation = what some people refer to as high functioning autism and or Asperger Syndrome] He has skills and agility of an athlete – always a highly prized quality this side of the pond. His eye contact is electric, a rare beast indeed. I have never been stared down by an 8 and a half year old.
I transport this child, my own three, and two other play date victims, to our home via the car. My children do not transition well and particularly loathe the car. I must have been completely barmey to think that I could pull this off! [translation = daft as a brush] This poor benighted child suffers surround sound screaming during the 7 minute journey home. Not only is he on sensory overload after a punishing day at school, now this ‘only child’ experiences a baptism of fire in a multi sibling home. [translation = plus the two other players.]
On arrival, there is a mass exodus, two typically developing girls and four autistic boys. [translation = one over optimistic adult]
I now need eyes in the back of my head as well as every room in the house simultaneously. I watch the one with the light switch obsession, as he flicks it on and off, temporarily confounded, due to the dimmer function. I don’t interfere with his perseveration as it seems as good as any other coping mechanism to settle in to new surroundings.
I find that two of the boys ‘like’ outside, which is unfortunate as I have two ‘hot house, never go outside under any circumstances,’ versions. One collects ants for the lizard, whilst my son observes through the glass door. He shouts warnings to him, “don be hurted by dah bees! It is Spring! Dere are bees in dah gardin!” I delighted that he is so concerned for his chum’s welfare. The child bearing gifts of ants, has an immediately recognisable style of speech. The tone, pitch and prosody are a dead give away; “how old is the lizard? [in minutes] “What type of lizard is he?” [although sex is arbitrary and irrelevant] He doesn’t ask what the lizard’s name is. I can’t decide whether to kiss him or the lizard? [“Gecky”]
Clothes appear to be optional, which would probably be o.k. as we are familiar with the naked tactile defensive side of autism, but a rogue, typically developing girl, who only has sisters, probably should avoid such trauma. I do not wish to deal with the fall out – “Yes mom, I had a great time playing with four naked boys……….!” I feel my brain over heating.
He is long limbed, chiseled, stark and autistic. A chameleon, and a blender. The effect is perfection. You would never know, unless you knew.
Noise, unexpected or predictable, but unfamiliar, is a deficit. The hands flutter like birds, but he's been taught to correct that 'fault.' The chronological demeanour of a teen, the developmental age of 5, maybe 6 year old. He's as sharp as a tack, as delicate as a soufflÃ©. As hard as a drug dealer, the kind that cuddles rabbits. He is both centuries older and light years younger than any of my children.
His appreciation of right and wrong, rules and the force of restrain, is impeccable. He is verbal, erudite. He corrects my children with the authority of the police, and the compassion on a monk. He is kind, concise and patient with inferiors.
The manners of a diplomat, the speed of a fire cracker. He is scared of cats, but warms to a lizard.
I hate the word 'awe' as is it over-used, devalued, almost worthless. But I look at this 'child/adult' and breath deeply.
Anyone, anyone at all, who has the powers of persuasion, to get my indoor, passion flower son, out into the garden, is certain to have an impact in a manner that we can only dream of, decidedly sweet dreams.