An Amazing Experience

Procrastination takes the form of blogging often enough.
What’s currently on the list is a pamphlet on autism spectrum disorders and young children…to be written at a 6th grade or lower level, and to have various readability tests run on it once finished.

What I didn’t anticipate about this project was how much I’d dream about a couple little boys with Asperger syndrome ( well, Asperger syndrome, ADHD, and Tourrette syndrome, if you want the whole collection of diagnosis they have between them…I still might be missing one or two).

You, dear reader, may or may not know that I spent summer of 2006 in northern Maryland as a student lab intern at the United States Army Medical Research Institute for Chemical Defense (USAMRICD). Because of a few random connections and some factors in our  backgrounds, and pure generosity and openness, a local music minister and his wife took me in for the summer. They had every reason not to- it was their first summer in Maryland, and they have two special needs boys (age eight and eleven at that point…three years is a long time).

That summer was a lot of things….an oasis of rest,sanity, happiness, and the start of some friendships that have been nothing short of amazing.

I’m often fascinated by how natural Asperger’s is…in so many ways it’s merely familiar traits- ineptitude with people, anti-social nature, clumsiness, the ability to rattle on on topics other people don’t care about with no respect for the listener, a tendency to obsess over things no one else cares about, difficulty in controlling emotions- amplified.

I also love to watch families function well. And this means the opposite of what you would think….the perfect Christmas card, photogenic families with children meekly lined up on their church pew rarely interest me as much as the perpetual chaos involved in adapting expectations, intentions, hopes, goals to real people.

I don’t think any of us were really sure how  that first summer would go. I think we hoped that it wouldn’t be too weird, that we’d be able to tolerate each other, that maybe we could learn something. There were no conscious expectations on my part, and I doubt on theirs either.

What happened was nothing short of extraordinary.

What experiences have you had that surprised you?


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0 thoughts on “An Amazing Experience

  • July 11, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    Your description of Aspergers (how natural it is) would not seem natural to many people but is one of the best descriptions I have read – maybe not only natural but realistic and non-clinical! I can understand how your summer would have been amazing. I hope you have been able to maintain contact with your friends.

    14 years ago, as a special education teacher, I greeted a 5 year old boy with autism on his first day in school! I never would have dreamed that 14 years later I would take him and his mother to his high school graduation where he was chosen “student of the year” in his special program and received a $100 prize at graduation from the Industries where he will work in the fall!

    Amazing how the unexpected can be so extraordinary!


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