Last week I waited for an inspiring subject for my blog, and—after running out of patience—decided in a eureka moment that waiting was a worthy subject. This week I got inundated with ideas and possibilities. There was Passover, which Henry and I did not celebrate except for eating matzoh ball soup. Our son Max was away Los Angeles, Sarah went to a Seder at a friend’s house, and Henry was sick with a bronchial infection. I could have invited my frail 86 year old mother over for our ersatz Passover dinner, but I didn’t want her to get sick too. So much for Jewish holidays and family gatherings…. Oh well, NOT celebrating –I’ve learned from friends—is sometimes better than being thrown together with relatives who don’t get along.
On Wednesday I went to see Temple Grandin– perhaps the world’s most famous and accomplished adult with autism—speak at Pace University and sign copies of her book, The Way I See It: A Personal Look at Autism and Asperger’s. The presentation included an art exhibition of artists with autism (including Sarah’s best friend). I had planned on writing about Grandin’s presentation, but there was another speaker BEFORE Temple Grandin, who gave an exhaustive (and exhausting) presentation on autism, savantism and art ability. After arriving at 7 PM, I had to wait till 8:30 PM to hear Temple Grandin speak. By that time, my stomach was growling so loudly that it interfered with my auditory processing. Maybe I was experiencing my own temporary version of autism: squirming in my seat, looking at my watch repeatedly, and trying not to melt down over the fact that my reason for being at the event was STARTING at the time I thought it would END. In fact, Henry had to leave before Grandin spoke in order to meet Sarah, who was waiting for us to have dinner. Plus I was coughing, sneezing and succumbing to Henry’s cold.
Temple was wonderful—funny even when she wasn’t trying to be—and insightful about the strengths and challenges of being on the spectrum. Many of her common sense ideas resonated: more hands-on learning experiences in schools so kids have opportunities to discover their passion; teaching kids work skills by age 12 by having them walk dogs or deliver newspapers; not allowing kids to withdraw and play video games for lengthy periods; and making sure kids learn how to shake hands. Perhaps her most interesting insight was how neurotypical people think from the top down, whereas she and others on the spectrum, think from the bottom up. For example, her “bottom up” thinking helped solve the problem of why cattle wouldn’t walk down a metal pathway en route to slaughter. The reason? Temple saw that the cattle wouldn’t move because they were distracted by the lighting reflecting off metal. As soon as the lighting was changed, the cattle moved. In a similar fashion, Temple told us in that the Fukushima disaster could have been easily avoided, but for providing water-proof doors, a simple design flaw.
Tonight I’m supposed to meet my friend for a drink. I thought about cancelling, but I don’t see her often, and the last time I was supposed to meet her I had chicken pox (see “Poxy Lady,”11/13), so a cold doesn’t seem like much of an excuse. Speaking of colds, I need to run to CVS and buy more cold medicine. There’s not enough multi-symptom Tylenol for both Henry and me to have our night-time dose.
Friday is when I usually post this blog, but on this week Friday is Good Friday. Well, not exactly. In the morning I have to take Sarah to be tested for the umpteenth time so she can qualify for Medicaid and other services. We must demonstrate that Sarah’s life skills are so poor, that she’s completely helpless and incompetent, in order to get the minimal help and support that she actually deserves in. Necessary but depressing.
As for Good Friday afternoon, Henry is taking off from work and Sarah is off from school, so we will finally spend some quality time together. We’ll eat lunch and then take our daughter shopping in celebration of her 35 pound weight loss. We’d promised her a “shop till you drop” reward for her dieting perseverance.
So much to do, so little time. And why must I be sick NOW? I had my flu shot back in October. Maybe it’s this freezing, miserable, seemingly endless winter playing mind games and wreaking havoc on my health.
Or maybe I’m just blogged down.