Don’t Go Where the Wild Things Are

April 6, 2015

Today, I read a story in New York Times, Letting My Autistic Son Go Where the Wild Things Are by Linda Davis. I don’t think I have any opinion about the article. I don’t even know what to think about the ideas behind.   Experiences, thoughts, and interpretations of lives of people with autism are, I believe,  impossible to be translated from one life to another.

The title, however, reminded me of one of the most piercing images I have of my son.

Robert was three or four years old. But small for his age, he looked like two years old toddler.  It was a cold and windy autumn day.  Or maybe it was winter already as maples and oaks  managed to lose all their leaves. If I am not sure, it is because there was no snow on the ground.  Very few people were walking in Blue Hill State Park  that day.  At least not on the same trail we followed.

Little Robert got maybe 100-150 feet ahead of us .  He didn’t run, but walked  quickly and with a great determination as if he were pulled by some invisible magnet. I called him to stop, but at that time he didn’t react to his name or to the “stop” request.  As he walked, he made sounds.  He didn’t scream. He didn’t cry. He didn’t whine. He didn’t hum. The sounds were long, as if he were singing.  But he didn’t singing.  I could say that he was howling but  with the menace of the gusts of wind tempered by the softness and sadness of birds’ cooing.

It seemed that Robert was trying to dissolve himself in this cold autumn/winter day. He heard the call of the wild and echoed it.

He was leaving us behind as if we didn’t matter any more. As if we didn’t exist. He was going into the landscape carved by melancholy ready to be swallowed by it.  He was three or four years old. He was determined, he was lonely, and he let us know.

Amanda and I rushed toward Robert.  Amanda, five or six at that time, had to be as shaken by Robert’s sounds as I was. Except, she was much more sensitive and much less inhibited. She knew that the only way to break the sadness and loneliness of that moment was to join Robert in his howling and or cooing.  So she tried. She tried to imitate Robert’s sounds.  Of course she couldn’t.  Her sounds were the sounds the people make when they try to imitate strange sounds. Robert’s sounds were organic sounds of nature itself.  So she couldn’t imitate them but  she ran to Robert and continued with her attempts.  She didn’t mock him.  No, not at all. She wanted to join him so he wouldn’t have seemed so terribly withdrawn and lonely.

Amanda and I took Robert’s hands.  He looked at us as if our presence startled him but he he didn’t pull his hands out of our grasps but with serious expression on his face walked with us back to the car.


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1 Comment

  1. Beautiful writing. Kocham Amanda


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