Some say autism is a puzzle, but to our family, it’s clockwork. It’s the many pieces of machinery that need to sync if we want any sense of harmony in our day. And it’s being able to rewind and regroup when the unexpected occurs, as it inevitably does.
The clockwork includes the understanding and love of those who “get it.” It’s teachers and specialists and medical professionals, but also seemingly unrelated individuals like the dental hygienist who doesn’t need to be asked to give proper warning before using every new tool. There’s the sympathetic neighbor who never asked specifics but responds sweetly and appropriately to the non sequitur du jour, whether it’s a discourse on the mating habits of honeybees or the types of volcanic eruptions. Those interactions keep the clockwork moving just that much more smoothly.
When I overhear conversations about the neurotypical development of my daughter’s peers, I sometimes imagine some far-off satellite making sure the time is always correct. How wonderful it must be to not have to obsess over every little adjustment!
Everything’s a little more complicated with my daughter. But no matter what we’re tackling—schoolwork, social skills or executive function—it’s fascinating to get a glimpse of the gears and pegs in her head and to come closer to figuring out what exactly makes this complicated and remarkable little girl tick.
By Nancy Romps, mom of AJ, 13, and Colleen, 8