Clap Your Heads Say Yeah (#187)

That is actually the name of a band noted in yesterday’s paper but when I read “Clap Your Hands Say Yeah” all I could think about was 2 1/2 year old Charlie at his little blue plastic table in St. Paul showing how he knew all of his numbers and–as six smiling young women cheered him on–clapped for himself, grinning big.
“He’s thinking, ‘I’ll reinforce myself!'” laughed Tara.

Just today, when I showed Charlie photos of Jim, my dad (aka Gong Gong) and me and asked him to match the words Daddy, Gong Gong, Mommy, Charlie matched them all and then looked at me: “Say yeah!”

“Yeah!” I said. And, “smart guy!”

After this year “from bangs to tears,” I’d say Charlie has a lot to cheer himself about.

It’s unprompted spontaneous 2-5 word utterances; it’s playing with actual toys. It’s showing how he could muster his forces at an intake/interview for his new school.

It’s a new tenure-track job in Classics for me. It’s Jim plugging away at his On the Waterfront book, whose research and writing have been ongoing with our 8 1/2 year odyssey in Autismland. Jim, who never lets the chance for a father-and-son bike ride pass him by and who always puts his vocation of advocating for Charlie first above all else, is completing his manuscript and making plans for a conference on Autism and Religion.

It’s me finally starting to write my Charlie book thanks to this blog and, even more, this steadfast circle of friends who write and read together. How beautifully ironic that a disability that is supposedly about “isolation” should connect so many individuals so tightly to each other and create such a vibrant community.

It’s Charlie saying “Hahppy New Yee-ear” to his grandparents tonight before he put plates and utensils on the table, unpacked the containers from his favorite Chinese takeout, and set them out for everyone. It’s Charlie swimming another lap in the pool with me this afternoon and laughing at the sloppy snowflakes speckling the windows of the black car as we drove home.

It’s Charlie loving learning, loving people, and moving onward.

It’s just Charlie himself–a good guy, a great kid–and all of our young friends (and older) in Autismland, for whom we all clap our hands and say yeah. Yeah, you did it, we did it, you’ll and we’ll do it, tomorrow and ever after in Autismland.

Happy New Year! May we all keep fighting that good fight; may we all keep walking this long road together.

5 Responses to “Clap Your Heads Say Yeah (#187)”
  1. mom-nos says:

    And with a tip of our hats to Paul McCartney and The Beatles, Bud and I will clap our hands and sing “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!” Yeah to progress, yeah to projects, and yeah to good friends who join you on the journey. Yeah, yeah, yeah!

  2. Eileen says:

    I “say yeah” to you, Jim and Charlie for a great 2005 and wishing you much more happiness and growth in 2006.

    Jim’s book sounds like one my Dad (St. Peters Prep and College graduate) would love to read.

  3. Wade Rankin says:

    [Claps hands enthusiastically.]

  4. I LOVE your blog. I am a friend of Autism’s Edges and found you that way. I also have a blog:

    I will definitely keep reading as I think what you have to say is important for people who don’t live in Autismland (or maybe we all do in some way).

    Isn’t blogging amazing? Such important communities forming, resources, creative outpourings, information…

    Happy New Year.


  5. kyra says:

    YEAH YEAH HOORAY!! and happy new year! may this year bring even more wonderful progress and accomplishments and growth for charlie and all of you in autismland! and the swift acceptance of your book for publication!

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