Thursday, September 24, 2009

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

Even though my Amish heritage has given me a cautionary approach to technology, I have to wonder how people parented autistic children before YouTube. I know most of the videos are inane. Many mark an aesthetic low point for our culture. But it is a wonderful resource for the endless series of obsessions that autistics have. Martin's love of the presidents involves not just flashcards, a placemat, a book, and paper cutouts, but a couple of videos. His recent favorites include a 7-minute tour of the White House exterior and grounds and a 4-minute montage of the 44 presidents morphing from one face into the next. (The Grover Cleveland-William McKinley transition is a little unsettling, especially because the videomaker has "Bolero" for background music.) Martin finds these videos very soothing. After a day at school, he'd like nothing better than to watch what he calls "The White House Story," to hear - once again - the narrator describe the Truman Balcony and the Bill Clinton putting green.

It's easy for me to look at Martin as he watches these videos and wonder what is going on in his little world and how he will ever relate to the rest of us. But then I have to remember that the little guy just finished a 5-hour day of school, which includes social situations that are particularly challenging for him. I guess these little videos are to Martin what a glass of wine after work or a little backrub after a run are to the rest of us. If I really think about his whole life, rather than focus on his "presidential moments," I realize that he doesn't spend most of his away from the rest of us. He spends most of his time relating to us.

This was confirmed for me tonight when I put Martin to bed. I told him that I will be going away for a few days (I'm off to the anti-technology zone of a college roommate reunion in the Poconos. No blogging, but lots of kayaking.) I've told Martin about my travels before. He has never really registered them. But tonight he said, "Mama, you don't have to go away. You can stay here. Don't go." So not only is he in the real world, he's trying to get me to play my proper role in that world. He wants us both to be a part of life at 1045 Quinby Avenue. Take that, James Buchanan.

1 comment:

  1. Would love to read your story, Jen, You mentioned your Amish would be interesting to hear of your journey from there to here...mary