Ok, settle down, no I didn’t win the actual powerball. If I did, do you think I would be blogging? No, I would be out figuring out how to allocate some funds to family and friends and then I would write some short blog from Florence. So pretty much everyone does that “what would you do if you won the lottery” game with their spouse, family, friends. Yesterday I picked up Jason from Hebrew School and stopped to get gas in my car. We decided to go into the gas station convenience store to get some gum and go to the restroom. When we bought gum we also bought a powerball ticket. I usually just buy one. I know that is dumb from an odds perspective, but really, if you go that route, there is no end to the amount you should buy. We also play as a group at work, and that seriously increases our odds, but still it is more likely to drown in your bathtub than win. So Jason and I got into the car and he asked how much the powerball is right now. Earl has always played lotto and the powerball so he is familiar with the tickets and the discussion about winning the big one. I play if I remember when I go to get gas or we do it as a group. As you can picture, on our way to get Bryan at speech therapy, Jason asked me what would you do if you won?<a
Here’s how it went:
Jason: We would buy a house in NY, right Mom?
Me: Yes, of course we would, and houses for Aunt Stacey and Aunt Frannie.
Jason: Would we give money to charity?
Me: Yes, of course, probably a million dollars to autism charities.
Jason: Do you think they will ever find a cure for autism?
(So here is my aside to that question. I have never been invested in a cure. I guess that is because I do not look at autism as a disease. Does cure imply disease? Hmm.)
Me: Well I am not sure. I don’t think of autism really as a disease, but I would like things to be easier for Bryan and other people with autism.
Jason: Well people with autism don’t know they have autism, so I guess it’s ok.
Me: Yes, Jason, they do. Maybe not at a super young age, but Bryan knows he is different. He may not be able to articulate what is different but he is aware enough to know that he is. Also, adults with autism know they have autism. I am not sure it’s a good idea to take away their autism either. Maybe they have it so that their brains can function better, smarter, or more creatively. They have other issues, but their brains are always working.
Jason: Maybe they could get that thing like an antidote, you know to stop if they wanted it.
Me: Interesting idea, smart boy.
Jason: Would you want Bryan to have an antidote to autism?
Now if you know me and us, you know that Jason has asked this question before and in many different ways. I wonder if he wishes Bryan did not have autism or does he wonder like we do what is really in Bryan’s mind. I wonder if he thinks, as I do, that wouldn’t it be great just to have a regular conversation with Bryan to know what he truly thinks about his world, his life, his being. These questions are so interesting, because, like teaching Bryan how to answer a why question, we have to teach Jason that there are why questions we cannot answer.
Me: Jason I always struggle with this. On the one hand I would love for things to be easier for Bryan, like a typical kid, on the other hand, would Bryan really be Bryan without his autism? As predicted, just saying this triggers watery eyes.
We got out of the car and went into get Bryan from speech. Bryan’s speech teacher explained to us how Bryan needs to work on why questions. We know he needs this but the exercises she gave me truly go to the essence of this disorder. One of the pictures shows a person driving and there are raindrops on the car and the windshield wipers are in the middle of the windshield to show they are working. The question is “why do we use windshield wipers?” So simple, something people figure out from being in a car and a typical child can just say why we use them, no one has to explain it or teach it. For the child with autism, the inference, that’s where the challenge lies. Bryan knows why we are using them, but can he take the thought of why and translate that into a comprehensive response? Not easily is the answer. These are drills we must always do. They are a reminder that you must give your child the tools, the language to persevere and progress. The most obvious inferences and conclusions are always the most difficult.
Bryan has trouble saying the letter “L” and saying “th”. Marcia, our speech teacher, (I say our because this woman cares so much for all of us, not just Bryan) gave me a sheet of sentences that contained one or more words that started with “L”. She said you must read the sentence to him first so he can get ready for the “L”. Wow, I had never thought of it that way. He must prepare his brain to say the “L” since it is not a natural sound to him. Genius!
We got in the car to drive home and I thought wow, I think I already won the powerball.