One of the seminal moments of childhood is what I like to call the "why" year. Sit-coms, stand-up comedians, and world renown authors have all made fun them. Even commercials. A seemingly never ending string of questions that can only be ended with a parent or adult finally concluding "Because I said so!"
In typical childhood development, it happens around 3 or 4. A new child exploring his world. A fascination with the very simple principle of cause and effect. To everything there is a season, and a time and purpose under heaven... turn turn turn.
Autism robbed me of that year.
Or perhaps it was just "on hold".
After Summer School yesterday (a summer program where Jack is doing well, excelling, flourishing) his aide and teacher told me that Jack was having a difficult time "predicting". He would read a story and the teacher would ask "what do you think happens next?" Odd. His comprehension is pretty good. His ability to relate to the real world is pretty good. His reading skills are pretty good. His verbal skills are pretty good. But Jack didn't want to guess what would happen next because, in his words, "he didn't want to get it wrong". Simple cause and effect. To everything there is a season and a time and purpose under Heaven.
So we agreed to work on it.
After school, Jack was watching some trailers for movies on his iPad during his break time, and he came across a preview for an old zombie movie (let's say Dawn of the Dead).
Jack: Hey, Dad. There's a zombie movie!
Dad: Great. Are you scared?
Jack: No. I'm very brave. How do you become a zombie?
Dad turns away from the computer screen.
Dad: Well, you get bitten by a zombie.
Jack: Then how did the first zombie get there?
Dad: I don't know.
Jack: Zombies aren't alive are they, so why do they need to eat?
Dad: Only their brain is alive, but they need to eat to keep that going.
Jack: If they are making other people zombies, why did they stop eating that person?
Dad: What do you mean?:
Jack: The zombies are full people. Why did the bad zombies stop eating and let the new guy turn into a zombie?
Dad: I don't know. That's a really smart question.
Jack: If only their brain is alive, if they don't eat, will their brain die?
Dad: I guess.
Jack: If only their brain is alive, why do they have blood when someone cuts them?
Dad slowly places Jack's face in his hands. Stares in the child's eyes. Recognizes that childlike exuberance that gives unlimited confidence that Dad lost so very long ago... and sweetly says:
Dad: Because I said so.
Not today, Autism.