Today's post comes from Lisa Pierce. Lisa is a former co-worker of Julie's, and a dear, dear friend to the family. This post is exactly what this Autism Awareness project for April is all about. Jack and Lisa have always had a special relationship... and this post proves it.
Brash, funny, heartwarming, and brutally honest... I proudly present Ms. Lisa Pierce.
“What Autism Means to Me” by Lisa “Auntie Music” Pierce
If you had asked me this question 5 years ago, my answer problem would have been “nothing” or I would have made a “Rain Man” joke about being a “really good driver.” Not because I’m an a-hole (well, the jury is still out on that) but because I use humor to deal with any topic, especially ones on which I am ignorant or which make me uncomfortable. That all changed when my nephew Jack was diagnosed as being “on the spectrum” a few years ago.
Now Jack is not my “biological” nephew but I don’t buy into all that “blood is thicker than water” crap. We choose our own families. I’ve been extremely blessed to be welcomed into the family of Julie and Jordan, Jack’s parents, and two of the very very best people I’ve ever known. I’ve been there since the very beginning of Jack’s life (I changed his first diaper!) and from the start I’ve had a very special connection with him that I’ve simply never had with any other child. I simply find him extraordinary and I always have. Everything he does is fascinating to me. From birth I knew he was “special” but I never thought of that term having a negative connotation. I mean “special” like amazing. The truth is that I really don’t like that many kids. I mean, let’s face it … kids are kind of tiresome. They don’t drink bourbon or watch any of the Real Housewives and aren’t usually sports fanatics so they don’t usually hold my interest for very long. With Jack, however, you just never know what is going to come out of his mouth. Which I love. Because no one really knows what will come out of my mouth either. So we’re sort of kindred spirits. I could fill pages and pages with Jack stories. Just to give one example (one of my favorites), whenever Jack comes over to visit, I always encourage him to draw pictures I can put on my refrigerator. One day, Jack drew sort of a scary picture of a Medusa-like looking creature. Once he finished I asked “So Jack, what do you call this masterpiece?” Without missing a beat , Jack responds “A Beautiful Day for Love.” None of us had any idea of where that came from. I laughed so hard I almost wet myself. To this day, I have that picture next to my bed. And I laugh every time I look at it.
I vividly remember when Julie called to tell me that Jack had been diagnosed. My first reaction was outright denial and anger. I simply refused to believe that my amazingly cool nephew could be autistic. Like I said, all of my knowledge of autism came from watching “Rain Man” and Jack seemed nothing like Dustin Hoffman to me so I thought that obviously whoever tested Jack was a moron and should be fired immediately. In fact, I was ready to lodge a formal complaint with the school district. Or at least write a strongly written letter. Once I calmed myself down and learned more about autism through Julie and Jordan and my own reading, I began to recognize some of the signs. Autism is such a broad spectrum, however, and I’m still confused about where on that spectrum Jack falls.
A Beautiful Day For Love
Jack Capell 2010
Appears graciously from the Lisa Pierce collection