Next of kin

shells.jpgI’m neglecting this blog lately, for a few reasons. I’m making music, and that takes up most of my time. But I’m also working on a “performance”, a little talk show about autism in general and Mild ASD in particular. At this point I’ve amassed enough informations to be able to pass it on, and I feel it’s important and urgent. But that will be later this year: music comes first.

There is one last thing I’d like to share, something that I had forgotten and that came back to me a few days ago, loud and clear. It was perhaps 20 years ago, I was visiting a center for mentally disabled people, a day care plus treatment where a relation of mine (who has Down syndrome) was doing some kind of activity, say ceramics. The place was nice, with a little garden and benches, the day was warm so we stayed outside. Lots of families, plenty of mental oddity of all flavors. It’s always a mixed experience for me: on one hand I interact, I play the games and try to come across as friendly and unthreatening, but there is a part of me that observes the scene from outside, and I’ve often felt very sad afterwards. At one point a guy comes up to me and sits on my bench. He’s about my age, and his body language says “stay away”: clutched hands, no eye contact, no talking. But he’s sitting next to me, and every once in a while he quickly looks at me. So I smile and say hello. No reply, I guess he just wants to sit, so I turn around and start speaking with someone else. But then I realise he’s moved closer to me, and his arm in pushing against mine. I’m not sure what to do, so I stay still, let him push and come closer. At one point his body is practically leaning on mine, and I hear he’s talking in a very low voice. I move my ear close to his mouth and he’s repeating the word hello, slowly. So I say “How are you?” He stops talking but doesn’t move. At that point his mother comes, she was worried but I said we were just having a conversation. She was startled: her son had severe Autism, did not approach people he didn’t know, he spoke (in single words) only to his family and care givers, and he never abandoned his routines. So we all sat and had a “conversation”, with the guy (I can’t remember his name) leaning on me silently. When we parted he stood and then, to the amazement of everyone, he leaned towards me and said, in his barely audible tone, “good”. At the time I wondered about the reason why someone like that would do something like this to me: I don’t usually come across as empathic or patient. But now, after my diagnosis, I think I know why: perhaps he knew.

Take good care and thanks for reading.