Susan's Blog

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Through the Looking Glass

Once you let the concepts of neurodiversity split open your basic assumptions about autism, the crack just keeps widening. Early this morning I took my coffee and book into the living room, to the couch across from Nat. I slurped and read while Nat sat still, in the center of the couch, whispering to himself into the crisp post-rain air.

My current read is not that great, plus the sky is lit up a promising blue and white, so my mind kept wandering. This is my frequent mental state: running from thought to thought, barely stopping to breathe and really notice them. Because of Nat’s presence, and the imminent lack thereof come July 28, the thoughts churning there were about him. As often happens when I think about this, sadness crept over me.

I couldn’t push away the way I felt sorry for him. Sorry because he was going away, and doesn’t really know yet what it means, to leave us and live somewhere else; sorry because I wondered if he felt that something was afoot, but could not put words to it because words are so elusive for him. Sorry because he didn’t have a book, but just sits there, so often, center-couch, staring ahead of him. And that made me feel bad because I realized that he doesn’t really possess much of a way to escape reality, with pleasurable leisure pursuits. (Leisure activities — or “appropriate leisure skills,” as we have come to call them because of our behavioral training — are what most people eagerly slip into to feel content: reading, listening to music, exercising, writing, gardening, doing crossword puzzles; at least, those are my typical leisure choices.)

Nat can’t escape himself the way I can. But where has all my escape gotten me? So often I run away from my real feelings (maybe you don’t think I do, but truly all you know is what you read here, where I work things out on Precious). I have a huge problem with sitting with feelings, letting them in, letting them merely pass, without acting or pushing away. Trust me, I have had some pretty awful consequences with all my running and impulsive action.

Nat, on the other hand, is capable of simply sitting, literally, with himself, his thoughts, his feelings. He exists within himself, within the moment, just about all the time. And he is okay with it. I realized then, how remarkable that is, how brave, how strong. It was the first time ever that I wanted to be like Nat.

My misplaced pity evaporated and I slunk away into the kitchen, uncomfortable, as usual, with these new feelings and discoveries, and plunged with relief into more coffee and my blog.


Susan, so interesting that you mention being in the moment in your blog. I am delving into a “New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle (I don’t usually pick up on the Oprah Bookclub frenzy but for some reason this book caught my interest), and after strumming through out of chapter order, I discovered that it seems one of his important lessons overall is to live in the moment. Just being in that moment when you are gazing at a painting, or a flower, and thinking of nothing else is so good for people. I genuinely have to make an effort to do so, and I too was envious when I noted my son laying on his trampoline just gazing up at the trees. Who knows what he was staring at, but he was in the moment, and wasn’t even trying, as I think he is often. I thought I was in that moment of staring at him when i realized I was wondering if he was seizuring and should I take him to a neurologist because I read once that “spaciness” can be a sign of that. If I could get all these voices out of my head that I’ve heard throughout the years, I think I could live more in the moment too.

— added by Bonnie on Wednesday, June 25, 2008 at 8:00 am

Thanks, Bonnie,
That is just what I meant: living in the moment. Nat can simply do that and it doesn’t bother him. I hope.

— added by Susan Senator on Wednesday, June 25, 2008 at 8:06 am

I probably sit about 1/2 way btwn neurodiverse and cure. Since I believe fully in a proper education (3R’s) for all. And sometimes that education, allows us to become more “NT” if you will…

But along the lines of your post. Yesterday afternoon my 6yr old (severe, non-verbal PDD) wanted to stay outside and he reminded me that sometimes, supper can wait.

We rolled down the hill in the back yard, played ring around the rosy, dove in and out of our little tent, lined up all our cars, visited all the bushes, counted jet streams (5) in the sky and watched clouds….

Sounds like a “normal” summers afternoon to me 🙂


— added by farmwifetwo on Wednesday, June 25, 2008 at 8:30 am

Thank you for pointing this out. I always knew it. I just never let myself realize and think about it. Then…it’s back to your kitchen. I love it when you do that in your post. I always wish I was there. (I sure miss a good coffee-rotten gut.) -Tina G.

— added by Anonymous on Wednesday, June 25, 2008 at 7:43 pm

I love this perspective. I’ll see things differently next time my daughter “spaces out” on the sofa…

— added by drama mama on Wednesday, June 25, 2008 at 10:08 pm

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