Monday, January 25, 2010


Martin played a game with me tonight. He doesn't play many games. Taking turns is hard for him. Learning rules to games can be hard for him. Somehow he knows factoids about William McKinley but cannot figure out how to play Chutes and Ladders.

Tonight, Martin wanted to play a guessing game. He laid about some animal figurines in front of him and said, "I am orange with black stripes. What am I?" Sometimes he would wait for me to answer and sometimes he'd jump in and squeal, "A tiger," and laugh uproariously.

While this game is very simple, it contains forms of speech that Martin finds difficult. It involves describing. It demands asking questions. It requires waiting for another person to answer and offering them another clue if they don't get it right the first time.

I got Martin to take turns a few times. Being the guesser proved more difficult for him. I said to him, "I have eight legs and live in the ocean. What am I." Despite having an octopus figurine right in front of him, he looked at me and said, "I don't know. What is it?" Even with more clues, it was often hard for him to guess. But sometimes he got it.

Martin has a lot of days where he's not in the mood to play with me. He'd rather construct little tracks for his trucks or line up marbles or use his stuffed animals to act out Sesame Street episodes from memory. In these ways, he still shows all the signs of being a child on the spectrum.

Tonight included moments when it seemed like we might be off that spectrum for just a little bit. I know I shouldn't want my kid to be any different than he is. And deep down I don't want him to be anything other than himself. But my heart is cheered when I can play a game with Martin. It means a great deal to me when he can say something and I can understand it. And vice-versa.


  1. I'll celebrate this with you, despite your misgivings. I want Martin to be exactly who he is and I want you to have moments of joy at the communication that is possible.