On Friday I got an Outlook invitation at work from a woman who I would call a “good acquaintance”. We have a mutual friend at work and have had several conversations but we don’t know each other that well. It was a lunch invite and in the body of the email it said “my daughter just got an neuropsych eval and the doctor said she has mild autism”. Wow, drop a bomb like that in an innocent lunch invite, whew! The invitation was for a few weeks away and I’m way too action oriented to just hit “accept” and get on with my day. I called her. I gave her my cell and told her to call me this weekend. I could tell in her voice that this was way too fragile to have even a preliminary discussion at work. I assured her I could help her. When we hung up I had the same sensation as when I hear that they are giving out the Bar results; memory anxiety. It takes you back, it makes you feel panic and fear. I felt so so so bad. In some ways it is easier to get that news today because there is so much more info available, even a first 100 days after diagnosis kit on the Autism Speaks website. However, as we all know from accessing the Internet, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
I am a huge Harry Potter fan. I like the movies, but what I really like is all of the clever names J.K. Rowling gives to things. For example, the pensieve. The pensieve, if you are not a fan of this series, is a bowl of swirling smoke that is filled with memories and recollections. Mostly these are of Prof. Dumbledore’s recollections because it’s his pensieve. How smart, she uses the latin derivatives to name things and I just geek out about it. My boss’s wife is an English teacher and she feels the same.(yay). In any event, I wanted to give this friend at work a pensieve of my memories and recollections. Although many of them would be heart wrenching and difficult, I know she would see how hopeful things can be. The little things are huge and cannot truly be described. I wish she could experience these things through my pensieve much like Harry Potter learning about Snape and Voldemert. A picture is truly worth a thousand words. Of course this does not exist, but I hope when we speak I can help her because the diagnosis, just the word autism can overwhelm. I await her call. Weirdly enough I wish I had taken her number instead.
On a happy note, I wanted to report two really nice things that happened this week. On Wed night I took Jason for an orthodontist appt. He has one of those palate expanders and it needed to be checked. I had Bryan with me in the waiting room. He was watching Thomas the Tank Engine (ok he’s a little old for it, but the trains have great facial expressions and he does try to interpret them). He was giggling up a storm. I kept trying to quiet him down and then two other Moms who were talking to each other, they both had kids in the exam rooms, said to me, “the giggling is great, we never hear that anymore” and they giggled a little too. There was nothing patronizing in their comments although they knew Bryan was not a typical boy. Their comments and demeanor were uplifting and I started to watch Thomas with him and enjoy his giggling rather than squash it. Yesterday I took Bryan to get dress shoes for an upcoming Bar Mitzvah. He does not like shoe shopping at all. I take him to payless buy the same damn dress shoes each year for the one or two dressy events and then put them in the closet for Jason. We needed to have his foot measured and a young man worked there and came and helped us. I never offer up that Bryan has autism, first of all it’s not anyone’s business and I guess subliminally I test people to see how they will do. I also try to let Bryan handle exchanges to see how he will do as well. Wow, I need a shrink. Well this kid was so patient, so sweet and just helped us. Bryan was using my iphone to watch Toy Story and the kid was telling Bry how much he likes that movie too. He helped us find our size and just engaged with Bryan as much as he could. I thanked him profusely for his help but it just made me feel so good. Here was a person with just a natural kindness, all good.
I hope my work friend calls today.