Autism is in the Details (#514)

Details are redeeming.
Charlie could not fall asleep yesterday and it fell to Jim to rouse a growly, groggy boy out of his fleece blankets to board the bus. Jim called to tell me about the morning’s rough start. Then he added:

“I realized his backpack was on upside down.”

(An image of the interior of Charlie’s lunchbox, with containers of rice turned over on their lids and sliced green apples squashing the potato chips I had made sure to put on top filled my mind.)

“He was fussing about something and that was it…….”

From then on, I knew Charlie, though so sleepy he nearly fell asleep several times throughout the school day, would have a good day (indeed, his teacher wrote, it was a very good day). Call me too much inclined to see the silver lining, but when I can laugh a little in the midst of some tough moment, I can feel that things will be all right.

Jim had had to spend the day at home to take his mother to the doctor and he was determined to get in a bike ride with Charlie. Grey sky and humid air portended rain; Jim scooted Charlie out on his bike as soon as he got off the bus and they made it just before the downpour came. The wind was strong and Charlie, happy to be out on his wheels, started cry-whining in the last few minutes and kept doing so when he came in, despite numerous food offers (“I made some white rice, it’s in the fridge”; “cookies?”). That lasted for a good while during which we concluded that he might be upset because he was upset.

“Payahno,” said Charlie. He came right over to practice and somewhere in the midst of playing “Balloons” his face muscles seemed to be relaxing and something of a smile started to appear.

Autism is in the details.

By that I mean, life with Charlie has somehow forced, or rather enabled, me to concentrate strictly on what is in front of me, on what my boy is doing today and now and here. On the concrete minutiae that make one day in Autismland—-one more day of get up, school, come home, ABA, walk, eat, shower, bedrime—shine so memorably with its uniqueness.

Charlie munching frozen vegetables while watching both the photos on Jim’s laptop’s screensaver and college football. Charlie diving onto the couch and atop Jim and curling up into a ball.

Simple little things that spell C-H-A-R-L-I-E as no theory, no hypothesis, no abstract formulation, ever can.

5 Responses to “Autism is in the Details (#514)”
  1. melanie says:

    Michael likes frozen chicken, is this an autism thing or just our sons?

  2. m says:

    Found you! I am a navigator.
    Best wishes

  3. mothersvox says:

    Just to say I *love* your new picture! It looks much more like you!!! mv

  4. kyra says:

    i’m with mothervox! i LOVE your adorable new picture! and yes. autism is in the details. it’s in noticing those tiny moment by moment gifts. it’s in the very GIFT of noticing. i love that.

  5. I’ve always thought Charlie likes the frozen food frozen for the sensory thrill. He used to chomp ice cubes (big ones).

    Jim told me the photo made me look more “professorish” (I am in my office…… in the upper left you can see the construction paper leaves Charlie glued onto a piece of paper (and promptly walked away from). Thanx!

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