Different but not Less. Autism chapter 2


«Buonasera my friends…Some people denied eating “Pizzetti” and now they’ve got these health problems, for example Harol didn’t want to eat “Pizzetti”… now he can’t walk and Eden didn’t want to eat “Pizzetti” and now he can’t swim, mio caro amico Mario didn’t want to eat “Pizzetti” and he felt a little bit dizzy …eat “Pizzetti”, “Pizzetti” the honest snack»

-a kid was singing along with the famous TV advert of an Italian bruscetti company. I entered the room.

«A Mars a day helps you work rest and play » – He sang once more. It was so hot outside that I had to wrap my hair with a scarf. «The washing machine lives longer with “ Calgon”» he continued. I stared at him- Peter*, as they told me his name later, but he didn’t make any eye contact. Then he sang «Always Coca Cola».
Peter was one of the kids I was observing and able to learn from during my visit in «Karin dom». Both his parents were working and were raising him without much of any supplemental help. All they could get was a little help from the appropriate institution, unfortunately they couldn’t spent much time there, which really was giving him a big leap forward. He was spending most of his time alone at home watching Tv so he memorised all the commercials and he was repeating all the time. 

Many of the kids diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder have the odd ability to replicate and learn information. They have «Working memory» which isn’t just the skill to remember long set of numbers. It is the ability to hold and process volume of information, both verbal and non-verbal — such as: say, memorizing a musical score and rewriting it in your head. 

That was probably the case of Peter. Being all by himself in his daily helped him reproduce incredibly well all the things he heard at home. In this case – to replicate an incredible amount of advertisement with the proper pronunciation and even voice imitation. Associated with enhanced memory, amplified fear and sensory overstimulation autistic kids carry the potential for exceptional talent and social deficits. But this is not always the case. Many studies has shown that Autistic kids are most notable in their ferocious attention to detail. People diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism, typically have an obsession with details and precision. 

While working In Karin Dom, I noticed on several occasions prove of this theory as I was observing some of the children there and their incredible perception of details. 

There was this girl Sonja*, who was literally obsessed with geography. Geography was the only thing on her mind and she didn’t care about anything else but studying and memorizing the capitals of different countries or places around the globe. I was getting in trouble if I tried to convince her to have breakfast with the other kids because I thought she would eventually get bored with this. I guess someone from her family was passionate enough about geography to also grasp her attention into it. She couldn’t focus on anything else but the globe and the encyclopedia. And no matter how strange was that at first on the other hand kept me really fascinated with the marvelous and different world with kids having autism.

I remember well when I thought to myself “what if one day my child has an autism?” I admit how hard it must be for all those parents, whose children have the syndrome and the effort in finding additional help for their mental development. Then I looked at Peter* again and he repeated a new advertisement, with fulfilled smile on his face. And then I stared at Sonja* holding passionately a globe. I recall thinking to myself that it must not be so hard or unpleasant to be taking care of someone so special and so passionate about details that could even be inspiring for myself. 

Nowadays years after my work in “Karin dom” I remember many situations and stories which I learned from, surprisingly more useful to me maybe than I was useful for the kids over there. And the greatest thing I remember and I experienced was that I was able to live sharing my days with so many different people with plenty of strange life stories. I was just a drop, a flower in a big garden with many, many others. That brought tolerance and peace inside of me. My soul matured. And nowadays when I see someone bullying someone else with disability or different gender, skin color ecc., I just think that this is stale thinking and maybe ignorance. And if we as a marvelous human creatures judge someone just because he/she is different than us we are not blessed yet with peace and life wisdom. And no matter how strange the life of an autistic kid maybe seems to be, there is also an incredible and so extraordinary part of it that until we live it we cannot even immagine it is there.

Remember that life is an incredible journey for everyone and those who forget to live it on it’s maximum and instead are looking for quirks and faults in others usually make no time to live their own life and to correct their own faults. Don’t regret or judge, just enjoy.
Until next Monday.

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