You can’t help but to love someone that has autism, because there in their own little world, and the only time you have any turmoil with them is when their world has been disrupted. The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines autism as a variable developmental disorder that appears by age three and is characterized by impairment of the ability to form normal social relationships, by impairment of the ability to communicate with others, and by repetitive behavior patterns. When talking about my client with autism, I like to compare my daily experiences to the movie “50 First Dates”, starring Adam Sandler (Henry Roth) and Drew Barrymore (Lucy Whitmore). Very great movie! If you have not seen it, you might want to see it. In the movie, Henry Roth meets Lucy Whitmore, and hits it off, and then he discovers the next day that she has short term memory loss and forgets him the very next day. The hilarious part about the movie is that he goes about imaginative ways of doing it over again every day.
I compare my experience only because of what my client does, but by all means; he does not forget who I ‘am; he actually has a great memory. A lot better memory than me, but he only forgets simple things like washing his hands, cleaning up after himself, or forgetting to look while crossing the street. However, he can remember plans that were discussed for the future; as well as every single YouTube video on his playlist, which he just happens to write out on a sheet of paper on a weekly basis.
Now that I’m in my mid-thirties of age, I can officially say that I know many Barney songs; Mary Poppins; Songs of South; and anything else that relates to Walt Disney, because my client recites quotes from them; as well as watches, them on a regular. There are many times also that we do not finish the entire movie, because my client repeats, rewinds or fast forwards certain parts of what he watches. I can’t help but to shake my head, and laugh at not being able to finish a movie, because it’s who he is. I can only hope to finish it another day, but deep down I know that I will never finish the movie, unless I buy or rent it myself.
He operates well when you keep him informed on tasks, and what’s next after each task, but God forbid a wrench being thrown in a current task that we are doing or you will get a totally different person, or tension! So, I have found it very important to keep him informed in everything we do, or what I would like to do with him, because no one wants tension. When there is tension he shuts down, and I do not get to hear him recite his favorite Walt Disney quotes that make me smile. I also sing them just to instigate him to sing them as well, which always works, and it makes me feel as though I have entered his world.
I have been with my client for some years now, and his quotes and music from his favorite songs have grew on me. I never would have seen the day that I would have Mary Poppins songs like “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious “, “Chim Chim Cher-ee”, or “A Spoonful of Sugar” stuck in my head; even “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” from ‘Song of the South’. I didn’t even know those as a kid, but now that I’m in my mid-thirties, I can officially say that I now know them. The quotes and music being stuck in my head have also made me smile and got me through tough times, when I needed to be cheered up, because it reminds me of him.
One thing that will be a hard pill for me to swallow, is when I graduate from college, and must move on into my career. It’s something that eventually must happen, but remembering his quotes and music will always put a smile on my face, and help me reminisce what my experiences were like working with someone with autism.