I remember a time several years ago before Ben had very much language when he was eating crackers. I cut him off after what I judged to be enough. He reached and struggled for the box, yowling, “Box! Box! Box!”
“No more crackers.” I said holding my limit-setting ground.
Frustration and its attendant trappings ensued, until he finally got the box and started reading the copy on the back.
He just wanted to read the box.
The video (YouTube link) is a minute-and-a-half long melodrama, a PSA from Japan about a boy on the spectrum, and the adults working to cope with and understand his difference.
It’s a smart bit of story compression, even if its emotional pitch is severely overclocked.
Our boy is far more engaged with the world outside himself than the child portrayed here; more playful, more verbal, more capable of charming others with his confidence, his expressiveness, and his comedic timing.
But still we who have raised him (as well as his team of committed school professionals¹) have days like this, where we feel stymied by an inscrutable and implacable need of his. Even now, when he is so much more capable of language to express himself, there are moments when I draw him close, his eyes welling up with tears as I tell him that I want to help him, we’re a team, we can figure it out together.
And then he punches me in the jaw.²
We’ve never taken him to a doctor for his autism. Never tried to cure him by removing dairy or wheat from his diet, or by injecting compounds into his body to flush the heavy metals from his bloodstream.³
The job instead, it seems to me, is to help him grow into a man who understands that while there is a time and a place for his agenda, that sometimes it is more important to simply sit and have a conversation with his spouse about dining room chair options, or to pretend that the executive director of his organization has the slightest clue what the @#$% she is talking about, or to draw a stupid tree when he is asked.
Without. punching. anyone.
¹Paid for by the people of Oakland and the state of California, so: THANKS FOR THAT.
²Fortunately, he isn’t any good at this.
³And angry reblog in 5… 4… 3…