You can learn a lot by what someone keeps on their desk, and I’m developing a new appreciation for the tangible things that signify what’s important to our young man. We are designing a new, more professional workspace for him and so have been moving some things around. Here’s part of what I discovered:
- a pencil sharpener, for when the electric one is too noisy
- an eraser that does not make crumbs
- a harmonica, for playing along to music on the computer ( with headphones on)
- double stick tape, because we are out of regular and drawings must go up on the wall ASAP
- two spare mouse batteries in a handy basket
- the three little pigs and the big bad wolf, for inspiration
- a battery charger for the camera we can’t find
- a picture from the prom sent by a teacher
- a ruler – probably because it fits nicely in that spot because he never uses it – except maybe to conduct a symphony now and then.
There were various pictures printed out from the internet taped to the table but I did not get to those in time for the photo – but one of them was of the chorus from Joseph Had a Little Overcoat, which is stuck in my memory in perpetuity.
I feel as though we are now truly seeing the emergence of an adult personality. Like all of us, there are parts of his childhood that he will never let go. Some patterns are set, but there is a self confidence about routine that seems less driven and more comfortable. He is taking charge of the things that matter to him and for now, he is trusting us to take care of the rest. We’re doing our best not to let him down.
In the meantime, maybe he can organize my desk for me.
Everything is so fraught with meaning these days. While I am processing recent events, I at least have access to some words. I am grateful for:
- the first truly warm day after a cold and unforgiving spring
- a track meet filled with happy, cheering teens
- schools with dedicated principals, athletic directors and teachers who carved out the time and money to create an interscholastic special olympics team that competed on fields among lots of other typical sports teams on this brilliant day
- the incredible young woman who chased our boy for 800 meters so that he could make good time in his race (until he swallowed a bug and then walked part of the way until he could sprint, triumphant, for the last 100 meters)
- the teammates on this yellow bus who waved at our boy through the windows on the highway as we made our way home, and
- the snapping flag at half mast that says that while life has gone on we stand strong in our support for those who still suffer from the wounds of last week.
Never underestimate the power of sunshine and smiles.
This post originally appeared on the LettersHead site in the summer of 2010.
Living with a person who has autism brings surprises every day, some pleasant and some decidedly less so, but they always catch at your heart, one way or the other. Take this box of peaches. I left it in the back of the car for the night, knowing that if I brought it into the house that my son would eat them all before dinner and then I would have no fruit to put in his lunch the next morning. He is, after all, a teenage boy. This morning when I went to fetch the box, I found it like this, with four peaches eaten and the remaining pits carefully placed in each compartment (the two empty ones are the ones I put in his lunch). When I asked if he “sneaked the peaches,” he said, “Yes! And I left you the seeds!”