Sunday, October 4, 2009


This morning Martin asked me if I was Harry S. Truman. There are other presidents I'd prefer to be compared to, so I wanted to figure out why Martin asked me about Truman in particular. "Because you're wearing glasses," he told me. I realized that Martin knows which presidents needed glasses, sported beards, and dared to wear mustaches.

At the same time he's showing this new level of detailed interest in the presidents, he's also keen on sign language. I find him sitting in a room by himself, quietly singing and signing songs such as "Love in any language" and "I've got peace like a river." He seems to find the motions very soothing. I'm wondering if we could use more signs around the house to help him understand complex instructions or woo him into trying new things.

Most important, I think these new interests signal that Martin is not strung out anymore. The stresses of losing one tutor, getting new ones, starting school, and almost getting kicked out of school just might be behind us. And since they are, Martin has the freedom to let his mind wander, to find new things to do. He can apply his mind to greater knowledge of the things that fascinate him: presidents and signs. Because he has the space to do this, I find him a little more willing to take chances with us. Today, he helped me bake cookies and didn't freak out when I messed them up and they didn't taste good. He thought it would be fun to eat them even if they were a little crusty and difficult to get off the sheet.

A Truman Doctrine approach to autism won't get us anywhere. If it's our world against his (Truman's democracy versus Soviet communism), we're bound for a fight. So no, Martin, I am not Harry S. Truman.


  1. Hey Jen--Stacy gave me the URL for this, and I'm finding it endlessly fascinating.

    I've been after Stacy to go visit Hiram (my alma mater) since you guys moved out there, and now I have an even better reason. Martin HAS to meet David Anderson, a Hiram institution, as well as the village historian. Why, you might ask, do I want your son to meet a retired professor? Well, David knows EVERYTHING about Hiram's history. A walking tour of the village with him is the most educational thing going at the whole institution. And guess who was a Hiram student, AND a professor at the college AND president of the college AND eventually president of the USA? James A. Garfield. His wife Lucretia was also a prof (and her dad was the president of the college). David could tell you more, and even show you Garfield's house. The lady who lives there now (or who did, the last time I was there) is Garfield's great-niece or something.

    Let me know if you're interested, I'll get David's contact info to you. He'd be thrilled to get a request like that. Although, Martin would probably ask him if he was Ulysses S. Grant. :)

  2. Do you know about Signing Time? You can buy the DVD's and books from Amazon, you may be able to get them used at or the library, they're kind of pricey! There are themes to the lessons, colors, school, farm, etc. No Presidents, though! There are some really great songs and it's really been good for my son.