Mixed Feelings in Deerfield

June 24, 2014
I made a mistake of volunteering information about Robert’s autism. I wanted to explain why we wanted to refrain from entering the houses which were shown through guided tours. So I informed the lady at the visitor center that listening for 30-35 minutes to the history of the house’s former owners would be too hard for our son with autism. I couldn’t help noticing sudden spike of her anxiety elicited by the word “autism”. There were a few awkward moments during which she, through a few questions, tried to asses the possible danger to the collection exposed to a contact with someone with autism. I couldn’t point to anything clearly inappropriate in her questions, but they put me in the defensive mode. So I added that my son had already visited many places that housed expensive artifacts. During this outings he didn’t demonstrate any behavior that could be considered dangerous to the exhibits. He just doesn’t like to listen for too long. Somehow, we both recovered from this uncomfortable state and concentrated on the map of the street showing all the places that did not need a guide.

I did not volunteered, however, to share with the lady at the visitor center, the main reason for our visit to Historic Deerfield which was to practice with Robert not touching anything inside. A few weeks before, I had learned that during a visit to a small museum, Robert couldn’t stop himself from touching many of the museum’s objects.
We came to Deerfield to practice with Robert, NOT TOUCHING. We had already practiced that at one gallery of the Museum Of Fine Arts. That was easy. We just kept the distance and, sitting on the benches, we “talked” about what we saw. That was a good lesson of using eyes, not hands to get information.
In Deerfield, Robert didn’t touch any of the furniture. For once, some of the furniture was separated from the tourist by barriers. Secondly, I was watching Robert very closely.
The only things Robert touched were door latches. After he had difficulties entering one of the houses, Robert had to find out, how the latch at that door worked. Later, as we moved from house to house, from door to door, and from latch to latch, Robert kept observing and checking the mechanism making the doors open and close.
Open and close.

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