Autism and a Boy

part one

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1. Notes From a Young Anthropologist

Gung ... gung ... gung! I like to sing this note. I need to sing it some more to see if I remember it correctly. This is the loud song that the kindergartners hear in the morning while they are lined up in a row on the sidewalk. When they hear this, they immediately follow their teachers into the classroom.

Then the teachers have the kindergartners put their lunches onto a cart. Mom sends my lunch in a paper bag. Today it was an apple, grape tomatoes, cheese crackers, a drink and a plain crunchy granola bar. I am allowed to eat in a quiet room. This is my favorite part of kindergarten some days.

When I get home, I create my own re-enactments of the day. This helps me to deal with the overwhelming amount of new information. On the playground I practiced the incantation which the music teacher uses every morning over the loudspeaker: "I regiayegancetothedog .....uninintatistaysameriga......." I think I got her rhythm down pat, but Mom might have translated the incantation differently: "I pledge allegiance to the flag ...."

I try to share my game with Mom. Today I showed her that I had made a pretend "campfire" out of grass on the playground. “Miss Kathy asked if it was a campfire. I said yes."

Each kindergartner owns a packet of colored cards. For some reason, the green card is considered the best one. At home, I created my own cards, ripping pieces of white paper and gluing them onto the kitchen cupboards, but in my kitchen kindergarten, the most important card is blue.

I have begun gathering a bag of my train toys and taking them to the kitchen. I announce that "it is free choice time and I will play with trains." I usually build a nice figure eight. Don't think that I don't notice that my sister takes the whole thing apart while I am at kindergarten.

I do not need to practice the poems that are sent home in my backpack. I can read most of the words, and if it wants to, the poem will erupt out of my mouth: "Three little kittens they lost their mittens and they began to cry ..."

But the really fun poems those teachers have taught us are ones like this: "A dot, a dot, a dot will do. More than a dot is too much glue." I know that if I repeat that one enough times my third sister will howl at me with frustration. But if I sing out, acting out a zipping movment in front of my lips, "Zip it up, lock it up and throw away the key," Mom will giggle. I like it when she giggles.

While the whole class painted gingerbread men with smiling faces, I was the only one who painted a gingerbread man with a frown and lots of tears peppered all over him. I told Mom, when she asked about this, that "he had lost his bu'n (button)." Really, painting tears is so much more fun than painting a smiley face!
Autism and a Boy continues...
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About Jillian Parker

My words are not written from the edge of a knife. They ooze from between my fingers like mud. There are seeds there, organic filaments composting. My writing is full of semi-permeable membranes. I have worked as a medical interpreter, lived in the former Soviet Union; currently, I am employed as an more Numerous times, I have been lost in translation. I have five children. One of them is diagnosed with autism. He is a genius. I have been blessed with an overabundance of genes inscribed with a secret code that spells "mother", and this drives me to continue functioning throughout the shipwreck of what popular culture names a personal life. My pain, your pain erodes the glacier that is my heart. I am melting.
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