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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…

Jailbait #ThrowbackThursday [memoir]

Throwing it back to the Summer of 1970

We were living on Tenth Street in Santa Monica, California when I turned seventeen in 1970, my friend Trixie was visiting from Canada, and boys were on our minds. It's #12 of the On the Street Where I Live stories. I was a 17 year old high school senior, he was a 23 year old Vietnam Vet.


Delaney & Bonnie (and Friends)
Jailbait
We were sitting on the sand watching the water when they walked by the first time; three long-haired guys who could just as easily be rockers, roadies or bad ass bikers, smiling up at us from the shoreline. The one in the middle - I'd already decided he was mine -  looked like Cat Stevens or the guy from Delaney and Bonnie or really, any of those musicians who had a beard, mustache and dark wavy hair skimming their shoulders. From behind my sunglasses I followed his faded green baggies as they disappeared in the shadows under the pier. Just before they faded to black completely he turned and blew a kiss in our direction. Busted! We cracked up, the three of us girls sitting on the sand, laughing in spite of ourselves. 

It wasn't our usual spot. Too many tourists and families with kids all hopped up from inhaling cotton candy on the pier, running around chasing the seagulls, spraying sand in their wake and squealing at a crazy high decibel level to match the squawking of the birds swooping down to steal their potato chips. Usually Laura and I preferred to walk the ten blocks or so down Arizona to Ocean where urine-soaked stairs and an overpass lead us across the Pacific Coast Highway to the wide swathe of sand that made up our quiet bit of beach.

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