Ben and I were walking home from the grocery store sometime in 2004 when I looked down and saw the most beautiful moth lying perfectly flat in the street. It was like a bug under glass in the museum—it had been run over by a car with its huge furry wings spread out and it was in perfect condition. Ben had been walking a little ahead of me. I thought he hadn’t noticed it.
“Ben!” I said. “Come look at this bug.”
The way he acted, it seemed as though he had seen it but didn’t want to acknowledge it. He stood planted to his spot and ignored me.
“Ben, come and see this beautiful bug!”
Reluctantly he came over and looked down at it. Then he looked up and away.
“I don’t want to see it,” he said. Continue reading
“How does a foghorn work? Does it scare the fog away?”
I’ve asked Ben a few times what he wants to be when he grows up.
“I don’t know,” he finally responded.
“Well, what do you like to do?” I asked.
“I like to open doors.”
“What if a comet hits the moon and it cracks into a million pieces? We’ll have to get glue and stick it back together. But we’ll have to be careful not to use too much glue or it might spill over to where the sun is and then the sun might stick down below the Earth and never come up again.”
One Saturday morning, when Ben was six years old, he climbed next to me in bed as I was sleeping.
“Mommy,” he whispered. “do I have autism?”
I was jarred awake. It was one of those crucial moments; I realized I had to address this perfectly or he could be traumatized. We have never kept the word autism a secret. We have never whispered it, and we have talked openly about it all of his life.
“Well, sweetie, “ I said carefully. “Some of the experts say that you have a little bit of autism, yes.” Good, I thought. That was a good answer. But I wasn’t prepared for what he asked next. Continue reading
Ben was about three, sitting on the couch looking at a book. We were getting ready to go to a farm to see some animals. I had told Ben about the trip, thinking he would be excited, but there was not much of a reaction.
“Ben. Ben. Ben,” I called. “Ben! Be—en, can you hear me? We have to go.”
Sigh. “Yes, okay. I don’t want to go. I want to stay here.”
“Ben, we’re going to go do something as a family today. We’re going to a farm to see animals.”
“I don’t want to go see animals.” Continue reading
Paper towel, paper towel, I just cleaned up the floor.
Paper towel, paper towel, I don’t need you anymore.