On April 26th, 2012, I started this page with this simple post:
I am a stay at home dad raising a child with high functioning autism. I am many other things, but that statement has come to define me.
It has long since been my goal to coax Jack into writing this with me. Almost 4 years later... That day has arrived.
First, a little history and backstory. I told Jack about "Find My Eyes" about a year ago. He was quite uninterested. And even less interested in me sharing his story (our story) with the world... or at least the small corner of it that read the blog. He also "gave me his blessing" to continue to write, even read a post or two, and continued to be uninterested.
In our house, we recently had the autism talk... at least the one that stuck with Jack. If you didn't read that one, I urge you to take a moment to read it here. It will make a lot of Jack's post make more sense if you read where we are coming from in the explanation of how autism affects Jack.
Today is the last day of Winter Break for our school district and we were tasked over the holiday to simply "keep up reading and writing" as homework. This Winter Break has been groundbreaking for us. Jack is really latching on to the idea of Autism being a perspective processing disorder (an explanation I made up). He is taking the time to think about how he is being perceived when I prompt him with "Jack, perspective" or simply "Jack, OPP".
So, this morning I asked him if he would write a blog for me (and all of you) for his daily writing assignment. He first refused, then after I gave him a few choices of other topics, since he had to write something... he relented and gave us this magnum opus.
I present to you a photo (to prove he wrote it himself) and I transcribed it to the blog. I was planning on putting in an editors note that I corrected any spelling errors, but there were none to correct. So, any syntax errors remain and will not have the usual (sic) demarcation.
I asked Jack to answer the following question: "How does Autism and perspective affect me?", and wrote it at the top of the page. I instructed him to answer that question in 5 or 6 sentences.
This is what Jack wrote for us.
The way perspective affects me is that when I don't take meds I go out of control and when I take meds it helps me control myself. My perspective is that when I take my meds I feel like I could puke\vomit. My perspective is that in school I have trouble focusing. My perspective is that I like to be left alone. My perspective is that other people see me annoying. My own perspective is that i'm not smart. My friends perspective is that they find me a good friend. My teachers perspective is that she finds me a good student. My perspective is that I miss my friends.
And that was it.
That was the most insight I have ever received to Jack and his ability.
I want to say a few things about this before I I share how we discussed this first. Jack is referring to the action of "taking his meds" when he mentioned puking or vomiting, not the way they make him feel (he has "gagged" on the pill from time to time).
What Jack wrote demonstrates that the idea of "perspective" is still something he is learning about... and working on masterfully.
I told Jack how much I loved his essay and asked if I could share it with the blog. He told me it was terrible and nobody would want to read it.
I told him that I can only guess (or take my own perspective) of the way he thinks and feels and everyone that reads about him would love his insight. "They want to hear about you from the horse's mouth"
Then I spent a few minutes explaining what "from the horse's mouth" meant... A conversation that he quickly concluded that if he was the horse's mouth, then I must be the opposite... the horse's butt. I explained that it's usually called the horse's ass, and that wasn't quite the conclusion of the idiom explanation I desired, but it was correct.
He said "okay" to share it.
Jack still wanted to know why this was so important? Why would people care so much?
I told him the story of Pandora's box. I told him that once the "box" was opened, all of the information that had been repressed and hidden from the world was available again. All of the mysteries of life, the good and the bad, were "back on the table". I told him that by him telling me about himself, I could gain a better perspective of how he thinks, and feels, and dreams, and wants, and fears, and detests, and combats... and hopes.
"You see, son, Hope was let out of Pandora's box as well. Before she opened that box, the people had no hope in their world"
"Dad, hope is a good thing?"
And, I instantly scripted from The Shawshank Redemption...
"Maybe the best of things."
And I was given permission to open his voice to the world with a simple one word answer:
Yes. Cool indeed.
Image - Jack at the Culver City Film Festival last month where he saw a friends' short film. I think this picture looks quite "authorial"