Silicon Valley in the Bay Area covers a lot of miles, but maybe not as many I think.
It suddenly dawns on me that I know the child that she's talking about.
I suppress my startle reflex and continue to listen. He's a welcome new member to the Den but ‘so obviously autistic, not to just those in the know.’ As a special needs mum herself, she is in the know. She is the ideal person to be the leader of the pack. With careful and diplomatic guidance,she smooths his path, anticipates hic-cups and ever ready to intervene if an when required.
She describes his behaviour with funny anecdotes, much as I would myself. His impact on the Den can be bumpy, but he's a delightful child and the troop is small and accommodating.
I become uncomfortable as the easy jargon, our shorthand, slips out. So many people are aware of the subtle “nuances” of language, value laden and so often crass. I have avoided the issue of Cub Scouts, just as I have avoided Brownies. I have a strong bias against any single sexed activity that cloisters a child, which stems from my boarding school experience. I am more especially biased against Scouts, at least in “America,” due solely and unreasonably, due to the attitude towards the gay community. “Baden-Powell” may have been a prisoner of the times in which he lived, where attitudes to homosexuality were criminal but we now live in the twenty first century, or so I am led to “believe.”
This is a child I have known for four years. A special child in a special class of four children, each with one personal special aide and a teacher for the group. An intensive class, for intensive people. Small people are non-verbal with the kind of behaviour that many rarely see, or wish to know about.
The air in the room was always palpable. A half day class where every minute was exploited to the full. I have no idea what happened in the afternoon when the children went home and the teacher and staff were left to regroup for the next day. Their dedication, professionalism and stamina, was beyond anything I had ever witnessed.
He is a regular visitor, a welcome one. He can walk and talk and play and be. I would not have described him as being 'obviously autistic,' but this is probably because my categorization of autistic and otherwise, have blurred and blended over the years. I see a boy with a ready laugh who enjoys the company of my boys, much the way that they enjoy his. I see a joker, a charmer and most importantly, a friend.
As parents of autistic children we are often guided, 'this child would be a good match for yours, more verbal, a more appropriate role model, better social skills, more patient, more mature………' but do you know what? If we're really lucky, much like other parents, our children make their own friends and their own choices. Around here, friendship truly is an unexpected gift.
So we can either lump it or like it.
New post up on “Alien.”