Look around you: my Asperger Son's weekend assignment
How many of us do the same thing?
When he jumped into my car on Friday, my son had a purpose. His counselor had told him to look around. Okay, you say, look around? At what? The sky? The moon? The car next to us, the man dressed in plaid and stripes, the teenager with his pants around his thighs instead of on his waist? The young girl who has shocking pink hair? The beautiful orange glow of the sun when it is setting or rising? The grey hairs I have that I desperately trying to hide? The happy faces of the Yankee fans riding into Manhattan to go to the parade after they won the World Series? The white caps on the waves at the beach? What? What does she want him to notice? The answer is simple, she wants him to notice life. She wants him to step outside of himself and see everyone and everything.
People who live with Autistic Spectrum disorders do not notice the world around them. They will be so absorbed in what they have to do or what they are thinking about that they will literally walk in front of a bus or into another person. It can be dangerous. Most people are fortunate enough to have therapists who work with them to help them so they can navigate life. Those who do not, somehow either create coping mechanisms on their own or have problems. My son can achieve a 97 average on his report card, yet not be able to see his pencil on the table next to his hand. It is hard for him to NOTICE things. He will walk down the halls in school and not know what the room numbers of his classrooms are, but he still knows how to get there. He can tell you EVERYTHING there is to know about the history of baseball, especially the New York Yankees, including batting averages of greats such as Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio and current stars such as Derek Jeter (his favorite) but remember where he put his glasses? Wow, did we expect him to remember everything??
Many people tell me that he is acting like a typical teenager. This is so true. I know for a fact that most fourteen year old boys have no idea where anything is, nor do they care. Everything is annoying and lame. They are interested in only what they care about, nothing else. Their minds are focused on a select group of subjects and closed to everything else. This I know. However, they will grow out of that phase and move on. They will open up somewhat and branch out to new avenues. They will know their classroom door numbers, they will be able to find their way around since by seventeen they will want to drive themselves everywhere. I do not know this about my son.
So the assignment is to LOOK AROUND. To notice the world. To see what the person next to you is wearing. To say hello to a friend before they say it to you. Most people have to rouse his attention to get him to notice them. To read the street signs. To look at the changing colors of the leaves. I am always pointing that out to the children since this is my favorite time of year, but he never looks. He is always reading a book or playing a video game. He has to report back to her what he saw, or should I say once again, what he noticed.
How many of us NOTICE the world? We are so absorbed in our lives, in what we are trying to do, we do not notice. So many people today are looking at their Blackberry or texting a friend on the cellphone. Instead of sitting in the park looking at nature's glory, they are on the phone having a full blown conversation about what happened at work today. Stop, look around. The world has some great things to look at. Watch the mother duck leading her babies. Look at the leaves falling from the trees. Notice the squirrels scurrying around. Go to the beach, listen to the tides. Just stop, stop and notice.