A Little Autism Magic (#241)

“Kiss!” smiled Charlie, eyes wrinkling as, laughing, he wrapped his arms around his departing ABA therapist. “Mmmuh!” (Smack.) “Mmmuh!” (Smack.)

“Bye Charlie,” the therapist smiled back from the doorframe, just as the 11-year-old daughter of Charlie’s babysitter had a few hours earlier. “Really hyper today,” her mom had noted of Charlie (who at that point could be found lying on the couch under his favorite blue blanket). The babysitter had smiled, too. “Just running up and down and up down from this wall to that!”
Wizard
Not simply three new members of the Autism Hearts Club. May I dare to say it: Three new friends, and a potential fourth (a swimming buddy), not to mention one of Charlie’s classmates who he talked with in circle time (I believe the topic was animals and the sounds they make). The two boys have been moving through their social peer programs together and–especially after last night–I would say that Charlie is looking directly at other kids and even checking them out.

That’s autism magic.

These social interactions occur with that strange suddenness of when the sky becomes completely dark grey and it starts to storm and hailstones big as golfballs pelt the roof of your car. What was it just happened? you say to yourself. I almost all but missed it!


Magic is all about believing something will happen following something else through some human intervention. So Sir James Frazer, in his seminal The Golden Bough(1922) in which he examined magic and religion in ancient–so-called “primitive”–civilizations, claims that magic “assumes that in nature one event follows another necessarily and invariably without the intervention of a spiritual or personal agency.”

All it takes to produce that rabbit from the top hat is a wave of a wand that appears to be made of plastic and paint. The secret ingredient that the Trojan hero Aeneas in book VI of the 1st century B.C. Roman poet Virgil’s epic poem Aeneid needs to journey down to the Underworld to see his dead father, Anchises, is a golden bough, aureus ramus. Only by finding and breaking the golden bough from the tree on which it grows can Aeneas visit his father in Hades and so hear the prophecy of Roman’s future greatness.
Lookinhiseyes_1
Aeneas gets some help to find this magical tree branch, from the Sibyl, a prophetess of Apollo, god of the sun, and from his mother, Venus, goddess of love. The latter sends down two doves who “come to sit upon a tree / from whence the odd-colored [discolor] gold shown out through branches of gold.” And Aeneas continues his journey, across the River Styx and past the three-headed dog Cerberus and dire Hades, King of the Underworld himself, and onto the Elysian Fields where the heroes dwell.

What golden bough has been Charlie’s and our ticket on our too-often dire journey in Autismland?

Charlie’s therapists and teachers who, starting with ABA, have taught–have given him speech and to learn how to learn, to love learning. And Jim’s and my own learning of how best to teach Charlie so that, as tonight, he retrieved the shopping cart, put items (as I requested) into it, pushed it through crowded aisles, loaded up the trunk, carried in the bags. And Charlie’s learning, so that he mastered reading another sight word (“television”) in his ABA program and so that, when he asked, a bit alarmed, for “Hat on! Yallow hat. I want yallow hat. Mommy!” and it took me some minutes to find the hat under a pile of coats, he stayed calm and kept running his nervous eyes over the living room, searching on his own.
Springinhisstep
And Charlie himself has been my golden bough, my talisman of hope and joy, of love and faith, of new ways of understanding how to be in the world. Like the mysterious branch Aeneas sought in Virgil’s Aeneid, Charlie shines out (refulsit) with a certain look of gold, even as he hesitates to move on and do the next thing. The social interactions I have been noting are tiny as tinsel flecks but they are thoroughly grounded in careful teaching specific to Charlie’s autism diagnosis. They are not entirely independent; they are limited; they pass quickly.

But they do happen and I’m so stunned I practically have to pinch myself and think, I must learn how to bring that magic back.

I have been able to learn a bit of autism magic from intense study and reading, of a multitude of persuasions. It is not so much about learning tricks and sleights-of-hand as of learning some basic teaching principles and consistently implementing them at home, school, pool, and grocery store, and more. It is hard and slow and sometimes boring work, like learning the complicated grammar of a foreign language. Judging by the results, the study has been worth it.

Charlie’s eyes kept having that sparkle as did his speech: “Cut da green apple! Give bowl. Blue bowl! Give sushi put on. Giff! I want show-wah. Pants on, jamas on, s’irt on! In Dee Effening, turn on! Goo’ night, Mommy down-stairs.”

The magician has cast his spell and I am charmed beyond belief.

Advertisements
Comments
10 Responses to “A Little Autism Magic (#241)”
  1. Monika says:

    It truly is magic. And sometimes they can surprise you in an amzing way, by doing something you did not expect.
    I am ne wto your page, but I would like to ask if you have more children or if Charlie is your only son?!

  2. Monika says:

    It truly is magic. And sometimes they can surprise you in an amzing way, by doing something you did not expect.
    I am ne wto your page, but I would like to ask if you have more children or if Charlie is your only son?!

  3. mom-nos says:

    One of the biggest deceptions that magicians pull off is making it look effortless, when really they have been working tirelessly to perfect their craft – much like you and Jim and Charlie. I’m SO excited about Charlie’s recent leaps forward! Thanks for sharing the magic.

  4. Eileen says:

    This is all so wonderful to hear! Just when we least expect it…I am sure you will all be working your magic in the social direction some more. I can’t wait to read more about Charlie and his newly forming friendships.

  5. kyra says:

    that IS magic! and, as MOM-NOS says, it comes from the love, dedicated, and hard work of your whole family. so excited for charlie! for all of you!

  6. MommyGuilt says:

    Ah, Kristina. Your wisdom serves not only Charlie, but all of us. You, Jim, and Charlie are such shining stars to US – we are constantly learning from you and finding inspiration and hope. THAT is true magic. If you don’t mind too much, I’d like to borrow this:

    I have been able to learn a bit of autism magic from intense study and reading, of a multitude of persuasions. It is not so much about learning tricks and sleights-of-hand as of learning some basic teaching principles and consistently implementing them at home, school, pool, and grocery store, and more. It is hard and slow and sometimes boring work, like learning the complicated grammar of a foreign language. Judging by the results, the study has been worth it,” for use with Ex…like it’ll get through his head, but I LOVE it!

  7. squaregirl says:

    Truly magical! I am charmed by Charlies magic as well!

  8. Estee says:

    “My talisman of hope and joy.”
    I may borrow that in my terms of endearment towards Adam.

    That is beautiful,

    Estee

  9. Kristin says:

    Television…WOW!..That’s a big site word! Great job Charlie :o)
    I think he is doing wonderful by what I read in your blogs. You and your husband have really worked hard to put together such a great team of therapists. It really is paying off!

    Kristin

  10. KC'sMommy says:

    Awesome awesome awesome! Charlie is doing so wonderful! Way to go Charlie reading the word television!

    It sounds like Charlie is really really trying to make a friend at circle time, this is so wonderful!Charlie is just amazing and I know he will make that special friend, no doubt about it! What an inspiration he is!

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  • What’s all this about?

%d bloggers like this: