Jarring

Filed Under (Adam) by Estee on 14-01-2009

Adam uses certain words frequently that can be rather mysterious for the rest of us to read into. For instance, he uses the word “red” a lot. I’ve considered the words he uses seem to be like emotions he reads, or feelings. Red seems to mean the negative emotions of others. Adam feels a lot, but I don’t think he’s given much credit for it. If it weren’t for me, this blog and autistic people, and perhaps the patience of a special few, Adam would be written off as nonsensical. Yet, much of his conversation is just as sensory as he is, perhaps we could simplify it and say on a kind of sensory overdrive, and as vibrant as a poet’s use of language. So I try to listen and learn.

There are a lot of things going on in our lives right now. Today, Adam and I found a new home to live in. I will spend the next few months preparing the house, doing him justice by giving him plenty of transition time. When we moved into our current home, I would bring Adam over for visits every week. We would walk over, check out how the building was coming along, and play ball on unfinished floors.

I plan on doing the same again and it is good advice for any autistic child. First take short visits, then extend them. When Adam is thrown into a new environment, he doesn’t really get used to it until the third day. That seems to be the magic number. It takes him that long to stake out the new joint, figure out its configurations. In the meantime, new places can be very upsetting.

As for new things and changes, he is changing too. I wonder how he will express these days of his life (he is to an extent which is private and I will not share). As for the fun stuff, his new teeth are exploding into his tiny mouth. He sort of stretches his jaw, and to many “experts,” they would just look at him as if he were stimming, but it’s not a “stim;” it’s a necessity in dealing with the feeling of all those teeth breaking through his gums.

Adam writes a lot more on his own now — another big change in him this year — I’d say most of the time at home and all of the time at school. Doing school work is easier to type independently than conversations where he might become distracted and needs my reminding be it a tap on the shoulder or a verbal reminder to keep going. I imagine this to be because doing school work is more concrete than open-ended conversation. But this is what he said recently about his teeth:

Me: I can see your front teeth coming in.

Adam: tooth coming in.

Me: How does it feel?

Adam: it feels
it feels open — [now think of it, he has no teeth there at the moment]

Me: Can you feel a big tooth coming?

Adam: yes it feels jar

Me: To mommy, a jar means a container. What does jar mean to you? [I find asking him to define is sometimes easy and often difficult]

Adam: jar milk

Me: [trying to get him back on track] You say your tooth feels like a jar. That is difficult for me to understand how it feels. Jar is not a feeling.

Adam: jar is a feeling yes

So as I said, maybe every word and every thing IS a feeling in an autistic child who many researchers and media define as having no feelings at all. In a life that is completely jarring, Adam is doing great.

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About Me


ESTÉE KLAR

I’m a PhD candidate at York University, Critical Disability Studies, with a multi-disciplinary background in the arts as a curator and writer. I am the Founder of The Autism Acceptance Project (www.taaproject.com), and an enamoured mother of my only son who lives with the autism label. I like to write about our journey, critical issues regarding autism in the area of human rights, law, and social justice, as well as reflexive practices in (auto)ethnographic writing about autism.