Two weeks ago James asked his speech therapist to help him make a Thanksgiving gift for the family. He wanted us to open it at dinner time. I don’t have words to describe how we felt when we read James’ thoughts. All I can say is that after 12 years of not knowing his feelings the five of us were dumbstruck at the depth of love and understanding he is expressing. First is the note he wrote to go with his gift. The gift is a framed acrostic.
I love you very much. Remember that when I hurt your feelings. I want you to know how much you mean to me. I understand how much I mean to you. I am grateful to be in this family.
Here is the Acrostic he wrote (entirely on his own initiative):
Time for family
Have group fun time
Around the table
Nice plates with food
Know I am loved
So very much
Great laughter sounds until bedtime
I love nights like this one
Very tender treasured moments
I understand how speaking matters to you
Nothing else makes you so unworried about me
Grateful I can talk to you now
Today James got to work with the wonderful Soma. They did some really neat lessons about the real history of St.Nicholas and celebrating the birth of Christ and when that was finished she asked him if he wanted to write something. He said a “CHILDREN’S FABLE”.
LONG AGO A GIRL WAS CATCHING FISH AND FOUND
A DIAMOND FISH. THE FISH WANTED TO LIVE. HE PROMISED
HER TEN FISH IN RETURN (for his life). IT WAS A BARGAIN.
SHE TOOK IT. THEN SHE CAME HOME AND HER BROTHER
LAUGHED AT HER FOOLISHNESS.
HE WENT FISHING THE NEXT DAY. HE CAUGHT THE DIAMOND
FISH. AND HE DID NOT LET IT GO EVEN IF THE FISH PROMISED
FIFTY FISH IN RETURN. WHEN HE CAME HOME HE OPENED UP
THE BASKET. THERE WAS A BIG MOUSE INSIDE.
THE MORAL: NEVER LET A GOOD BARGAIN GO!
WE MUST KNOW WHEN A FISH TALKS THERE IS SOMETHING IN IT.
James has been studying the American Classics (at his request) this past month. He has been learning about great American poets, writers, artists and scientists. When he was learning about Emily Dickinson it was mentioned that she often wrote about “loneliness” or “belonging”.
He was asked “what does belonging mean to you”? He said “HAVING PEOPLE AROUND WHO UNDERSTAND ME AND TALK TO ME LIKE I AM SMART”. And “What communities do you think you belong in”? “I WANT PEOPLE AROUND WHO ENJOY LIFE”.
In this same unit James read some Langston Hughes poetry which reflects his experience as a black man. James was asked what themes would be reflected in his own poetry and he said “KEPT INSIDE EACH TODAY, LIVING ALONE A LIFE READY.” After reading the Langston Hughes poem As I Grew Older James said that it was about “BROKEN DREAMS, SLAVERY”. When asked what wall or obstacle Hughes faced he said “SLAVERY”. When asked what his own obstacle might be he said “SILENCE”. He then wrote a poem about breaking through walls to reach your dreams. Here it is:
DONT GIVE UP
EACH DAY IMPORTANT
EACH TEACHER DIFFERENT.
I haven’t known where to start when sharing all the things James is saying on his letterboard. The first time he spelled on the board with Soma it seemed like a miracle that he could answer questions about the vapor cycle, do word problems and let us know that yellow was his favorite color because it made him think of flowers. But now fast forward 6 months and he is writing poetry, scientific hypotheses, fables, myths and other literary expressions. He asks startling questions and sometimes just says things that only a teenager would say, such as Hunter Hays (the country singer) “sucks” and “I was mad at my mom this morning but I don’t know why”. I am not entirely sure of the right format for these blog posts because I want it to be a place friends and family can quickly check in to see what James is saying but I also want families with autism who don’t know us to be able to learn from following our progress. So bear with me as I begin to journal and catalog the communication of a young man who just six months we had no idea was this bright and knowledgeable!