Autism Awareness Month – What are you looking at?

Every so often you have the opportunity to step outside yourself and view yourself as others do. This kind of insight usually occurs when you least expect it. One of the [many] times this has happened to me, was on a fairly ordinary day. When I say 'ordinary,' I mean this in the way that 'ordinary' had become for us.

As I am the proud owner, [translation = temporary tenuous custody, at the best of times] of two autistic boys.

At that time, they were still on the smallish side, 39 and 45 lbs respectively, which meant that they were portable. Portable was convenient for me, because their legs only functioned on random occasions. [translation = incipient jelly legs] Added to which, they had a strong preference for being both high up and squished. [translation = the latter referrers to deep proprioceptive input, the former has yet to be formally diagnosed]

Thus if you lie on the floor screaming for long enough, preferably in stereo, you soon learn that your poor benighted mother will carry you. It is a good idea to reward your mother at this point by ceasing to cry, as this will ensure positive reinforcement and ensure that she is quicker next time. In you continue in this vein for long enough, before you know it you'll only need to squeak a bit and just like Pavlov's dog, she'll scoop you up. Easy.

If we then fast forward a couple of years after this kind of exposure, we can now clearly see the woman walking out of the occupational therapist's office towards us. As you watch, two slightly larger children, who have aged a couple of years since we began, scurry on all fours towards the woman, presumably the mother and scurry up her legs like monkeys until they are securely nestled in the waist area, one either side. You, the observer, note that they don't appear to be twins. On closer inspection you are fairly confident that one of them is larger, probably older, but neither has much to say for themselves and at least that dreadful screaming has ceased. You find it quite odd to see three heads aligned in such a manner that has not been posed by a photographer. You cast your mind back to consider when last it was, that you saw three such heads on the same plane?

One child sucks his thumb, or hand, now that you look a little more closely. The other one has his hands planted firmly over each ear. The woman wears dark glasses, as well she might, shame on her! Now where have you seen those three heads before? That's right! Of course! Those three little monkeys, see no evil, hear no evil…..

now don't you say another word!

Parent nil, “monkeys” win again. “This” could be me!

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