Monday, February 21, 2011

The Club

I was spending the weekend with three of the world's most amazing women; Baroy was spending the weekend helping film a documentary that involves special needs kids. (More on both of those in more detail in the not-too-distant future.)

On Sunday, they were filming--among other people--N's occupational therapist (who is, if you ask me, a not-so-minor deity). Because Em has expressed interest in seeing how filmmaking works, and since I wasn't at home, he ended up taking both of them for a full day of filming.

By the end of the day, I'm told, N was done. D. O. N. E. He began to whine and suck his thumb and just generally get under everyone's feet...and skin. So, Em told me later, during the last interview of the day, pulled him onto her lap and held him tight, giving him the oh-so-calming sensory input that, really, almost all of us would do well with when things are just more overwhelming than we can handle. But, I digress.

They were, by this time, filming the family of a boy from Em's middle school who has autism; at one point, the boy was talking about going to a Galaxy soccer game, and how he felt about it. He said he felt nervous, and the interviewer asked him why. "I get nervous being around people I don't know," he admitted.

It was then, Em says, that from her lap came the barely audible sound of her brother's whisper. "Join the club," he said. "Join the club."

I recently pulled aside the aforementioned OT after a session in the clinic, to ask if it was unusual that N really never acknowledges his differences in any real way; doesn't seem to notice that not every child goes to RSP twice a day, has clinic and at-school OT sessions, gets pulled out for speech, gets pulled out for a little weekly psychotherapy.

"He's ten," I said, twisting my mouth a bit. "Shouldn't he recognize what's going on by now?"

"Well," she said. "by ten you might expect him to recognize his differences, maybe be concerned about them. Or, at least, you would know...he didn't have a developmental delay." She emphasized the last two words, raising her eyebrows at me slightly, ever-so kindly, but meaningfully. "Which is, of course, why he's here in the first place."

I got it. I dropped it.

But now, I think, it may not be a delay. It may just be that recognition comes in many forms. It may just be that--despite the fact that he never cries about being "different," never asks about his quirks, never really talks about them as quirks--he sees himself clearly nonetheless. It may just be that he sees himself in others, that he gravitates toward 'his people,' and that he recognizes likenesses instead of differences.

It may just be that he sees himself as part of a club. Club Quirky. Club Spectrum. Club N.