Had a conversation with my son last night.
Son: "What's Autism, Daddy?"
...wow...where to begin...
His eyes were so honest, so innocent. He truly cares about his sister and tries to help all the time. He is fully trained in ABA and DTT and has a PhD in reverse psychology.
He's only 5...he shouldn't worry about this yet.
Rather than avoid the topic, like I did when the word 'sex' appeared on Family Feud ("it means gender, buddy"), I tried to give him a description that would make sense to him. He's earned it.
I sat down on the couch with him and we talked like two old souls playing chess in Central Park. He looked at me seriously, as only he can, and put his arm on my shoulder...his bear firmly tucked under the other arm.
Daddy: "Autism is different for everyone, buddy. Some have trouble with their bodies, some have trouble focusing, and some have trouble with their words..."
S: "Like, my sister!"
D: "That's right. You know how she sees things differently than you do? (He nods) Well, there are a lot of other people who look at the world the same way she does. You look at this rug as something to keep the floor from being scratched, but she sees all of the patterns, designs and colors that make up the rug. They leap out of the rug like a 3-D movie."
S: "That's really cool..."
D: "Yeah, it is, huh? Sometimes, it's so cool that she just wants to look at those things rather than the other people in the room."
S: "I would, too!"
D: "Yup, it would be pretty awesome. But, it also makes it hard for her to focus when she needs to talk to us or work with her teachers."
S: "Or play with me..."
D: "Right. That's why we work so hard, because we really want her to come out and play. She's a lot of fun when she plays."
S: "Yeah...but, Daddy, why does she babble all the time?"
D: "Hmmm...what's your favorite song?"
S: "Umm...Gangnam Style!"
D: "Have you ever had it stuck in your head? Playing over and over again?"
S: "Yeah. Sometimes it's stuck there forever..."
D: "Right. Well, she does that with everything she sees or hears. Sometimes, six different things are playing all at once, round and round in her head, and she can't help but let them out."
S: "Wow...that's amazing..."
D: "I know, right? Also, she has superpowers. She can see, hear, touch and taste way better than we do. But, it makes her super sensitive to everything."
S: "Oh! Oh! Like Daredevil doesn't like loud sounds! Is that why she covers her ears, Daddy?"
D: "Yup. That's also why she has trouble with certain foods, bright lights, and scratchy clothes. Her super powers."
S: "Well, I think that's cool. I have super powers, too. I can run super-fast! She and I can be a team, right, Daddy?"
D: "You already are, buddy, you already are. I love you so much."
He hugs me.
S: "I love you too, Daddy."