Sunday, March 16, 2014

Making Memories

Almost every day when I ask Ben what he did at school that day, he says, "We had a fire drill."  They don't really have fire drills every day at his school, but I know that when they do, it makes a strong impression on him.

Whether it's that time flows differently in his mind, or that he knows what I'm asking but only the fire drill memory comes to his mind right then, I feel a strong sense of similarity between Ben and Naoki Higashida, who wrote The Reason I Jump about his own autism at age 13.  I've blogged about Ben's memory surprising me before.

The other day, I arrived a little early to pick up Ben and got a chance to speak with one of his therapists.  She told me she'd had an interesting conversation with Ben when a helicopter flew very close to their building.  Ben ran over to the window to see:
Jessica: Ben, what do you see?
Ben:  It's a helicopter.
Jessica:  Where is the helicopter?
Ben:  It's up in the sky.
Jessica:  Would you want to fly in a helicopter some day?
Ben:  Yes, I want to fly.
Jessica:  Where would you go?
Ben:  I would go to North Carolina.
She was a little perplexed as to where he came up with that, and Ben couldn't explain it well enough.  I knew right away.

Beach Walkabout
Last Thanksgiving, we got to spend the holiday with some dear friends and their wonderful kids by the ocean in North Carolina.  In addition to the holiday, we celebrated C's 50th birthday playing boardgames, eating well, and enjoying the heck out of each others' company.

Ben started every day at the crack of dawn with a walk on the beach, no matter how chilly.  He would go for miles, playing tag with the surf, and zipping up and down the dunes.

These were good times - we saw ships and dolphins and all manner of things washed up on the beach.

He loved being around everyone, but walkabouts were required 3 or 4 times a day to settle his mind.

We all built some lasting memories there.

Another event recently made a big impact on Ben's psyche, at least for a few days.  Lovely Wife brought Ben to the Utah House Business and Labor Committee hearing for our bill to bring insurance coverage for autism to Utah.  The hearing room was packed with people...many of them families affected by autism.  The tension was so strong and palpable, Ben could barely stay in the room.  I'm convinced it's the reason for the emotional struggles Ben had in the following days.  It was like a big rock had been tossed into his mental pond.

The end result of the hearing was a unanimous committee vote in our favor... I know Ben also felt the relief and joy that travelled through the room.  It was such a strong emotional experience, I have to wonder what he'll remember from that day.