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Showing posts from January, 2010

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A + for The A-Word: The most authentic look at Autism on screen.

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I worked for several years with a succession of autistic children—which mostly means boys—kids who were mainstreamed in regular education classrooms, with a classroom aide assigned to shadow them. That was me, the shadow. 

We also lived next door to a family who had an autistic son who became one of our son’s closest playmates, until we moved away at the end of elementary school. Chris, with his funny idiosyncrasies is the source of some very sweet memories, as well as moments of high drama. That’s what you get with autism, children who can be deeply involved when their needs and passions are directed and shared but who can sometimes find it frustrating when those needs are brushed aside. 

It’s typical for an autistic child to want to talk about dinosaurs—or whatever the passion is—and be frustrated while the rest of the kids have moved on to another topic. The autistic child is focused on that stegasaurus and exactly how cool it is, just not quite getting that the others don't shar…

Mum, Dad and Me. What Year Is This?

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Judging by the short bleached blonde hair, the Mexican peasant blouse I'm wearing (I'm the one in the middle)and the lovely couch my parents and I are sitting on, I'm going to say 1974. I recognize the hair cut from a picture of me in Vegas on my 21st birthday and I turned 21 in 1974. Which makes my mum, the babe on the left 49! She was pretty, wasn't she? My dad was 10 years older. When they met, she was 20 and he was 30, and everyone warned her to stay away from him. But he was quite the catch - he had that whole dashing, debonnaire British officer and a gentleman thing going for him. Add in that he spoke French, Italian, Spanish and Arabic fluently and she didn't stand a chance!

But She's Not There

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I went to see my mum today. It's been awhile. There was no one in the lobby so I signed in and went down the hallway scanning the doors for her name. Lots of elderly and infirm folks wandering the hallways in wheelchairs and walkers. Plenty of nurses in their greens carrying clipboards and pushing carts filled with meds. But no mum. She wasn't in her room, just a silver-framed picture of my dad and another one of my mother and me with Russell when he was a baby indicated the room belonged to her.
I wandered down the hall and found a nurse.
"I think she's with her son walking around" she told me.
No she wasn't. I'd seen my brother's name signed out on the visitor log over an hour ago.

I found her in the family room. A few round tables on rollers crowded with liters of coke and the lunches that family members visiting their loved ones, almost always women—mothers, grandmothers, rarely men— brought in. My mother was sitting apart from them all, alone in her …