Austism Awareness Month – Happy Month of April!

Maybe this will be the final impetus for my first Autism post.

Jack is Autistic. I may have mentioned it before….. One of the scariest things I think about is that he will grow up some day and go to college, or a dance, or go on a date, or have his own apartment….Oh god.

Watching him play at the park is like social anxiety torture for me. A few weeks ago a group of little girls -little Park Slope Princesses- were running around the playground near Jack. One of them ran up to Jack (wearing a tiara, I KID YOU NOT!!!) and told him “we’re playing house, and you’re the husband!” Jack didn’t care, he flapped his hands at them and continued running around in his very carefully triangulated pattern, as he is prone to do….. The girls didn’t like it, and at first told him Jack that he couldn’t run near their “house” which was a section of the jungle gym. Again, Jack didn’t care. Then they started calling him a monster, and would scream and run from him when he came near them, which he thought was funny, and chased them. This is where I started to freak out a little. After one of them pushed Jack, I walked straight up to one of the mothers with tears in my eyes and told her that her daughter had pushed my son, and that I didn’t appreciate the little princess calling him a monster. To her, I was just some uber-sensitive Mommy but to me, it was a far more complicated situation.

Now, about the post. I remember around the time when Jack was diagnosed, it was almost the end of my second year at Yale. A colleague of mine in the vocal program, we’ll call him Dave, told us that he wouldn’t be giving his first year recital, but would give two in his second year. The reason for this, was that he had always had problems memorizing music due to his dyslexia and ADD, the first year language requirements (4 sets of songs in 4 languages) were even more problematic. Fine, I was sympathetic.

Another colleague of mine, we’ll call him Larry, was PISSED at Dave’s recital extension. Over a few bears at some Irish pub place he said something like “Dave should have never made it passed the admission process. Don’t they screen for that stuff?”

At which point I said something snarky about how everyone has a right to an education, and the IDEA is all over that, etc. To which Larry smartly replied, “Yeah, but this is YALE…”

Yeah, this is YALE, School of Music, VOICE DEPARTMENT, where we earn two credits for yoga, one credit for a weekly coaching with a professional pianist who will spoon feed you your notes if you aren’t smart enough to find Middle C, and a theory class where it is recommended to call a chord pink and sparkly, and not necessarily a German Augmented 6th.. Yeah, the center of the academic universe, not. so. much.

A challenge: Imagine Yale’s student body without Dyslexia, ADD, Hello, FUCKING ASPERGER’S SYNDROME- why stop there? what about glasses? deafness? emotional disorders? bi-polar/manic depressives? eating disorders? shall we continue?

Wait, didn’t HITLER try to do that with like, the world? And like hello, didn’t we all see A Beautiful Mind?

Anyways, April is Autism Awareness Month, and strangely enough, as we were leaving a gamelan rehearsal today with Jack he said “Happy Month of April!” to a friend as a goodbye…. didn’t really think about it until just now, but it’s kind of fitting and cute, huh?

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