Bernie pic

Bernie pic

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Autistic boy teaches colorful magic

Enjoy this illsutrated short story from the anthology

Kay Curran

THERE are many ways of experiencing colour! The artist and the poet express the colours around them in amazing ways. Some people see their feelings in colour from the golden joy of a parent when they hold their child for the first time to the red of frustration and tiredness as their special child grows up.
My grandson, who is 6-years-old, going on a hundred, was taught about the meaning of colour for him when he was only 3-years-old. His mother realised he was different, special, and a friend suggested he could be Asperger’s when she heard one of his meltdowns over the phone.
The meltdown comes with a blood curdling sound, very red and frustrated. Not just a tantrum that the average child will throw but different, signalling absolute anxiety, fear or terror of whatever makes his world almost unliveable at the time. It can be something as simple as a decision to walk down the steps that day.
We were fortunate enough to find a very good psychologist who worked wonders with him. However it caused all our families’ bank balances to turn red! You can believe that!
‘Doc’, as he called her, taught him that if he had red thoughts he would have red feelings and he had to learn to turn them into green thoughts and feelings. It was fascinating to see how this came about. One day, he came for his session, and, hardly able to pronounce the words, told Doc that he had white thoughts and feelings. ‘Mmmm, tell me about it,’ was her amazed reply. It was not something you heard at a psychologists’ conference or found in any research books.  He explained patiently that ‘angry, cranky and scared were very red feelings’ and he understood he had to make them green. ‘But,’ he said, ‘there is a different feeling altogether and it is white.’ Well the psychologists of Queensland have learnt something new and colourful.

At home with me one day he announced our dog Dove was very sad. I dismissed it by saying, ‘Oh go and give her a hug.’ Then I heard chattering coming from behind my chair, and there was my little man explaining gently to the dog, ‘Now Dove, your white feelings are coming from your white thoughts and you need to make them green.’ Can you believe it?
It has been, and I am sure will continue to be, a fascinating journey with this young man who has been on this earth a mere six years. Doc calls him her ‘little old Einstein!’ He has now been diagnosed with autism “officially” and like other special children we are given to nurture, he will make his own special mark on the world. We are blessed that he is classified as a “high functioning autistic”. He is able to talk and has a habit of doing so constantly. This can cause the listener to have feelings tingeing on the red! You can believe that!
When he started Prep School last year his grandfather asked him if he liked school, and he replied ‘Of course!’  His thinking was that if you go to school you like it – a green thought or rule he has set up?
He may be a book critic in the making.  Given a Prep book to read he said it was silly as they only changed one word in the whole book. The Year 1 book received a similar critique. The Year 2 book was considered ‘not bad’ but, when they took him back to advanced Year 1, he had comments coming from feelings bordering on the red. He said, ‘This book is rather silly; do you think I am a child?’ spoken politely but definitely.
As part of his therapy he gets to go horse riding each week and I am sure his horse Sugar, has been given the ‘white thoughts’ lecture in his own special gentle green way.
His twin sister has now been diagnosed with Asperger’s but, just to keep the teachers hopping, girls with Asperger’s present differently.  I pray every night for their teachers because their big brother who is 14 months older than the twins is also on the Asperger’s/autism spectrum.
I think the difficulties they have, and will continue to have, probably make them even more wonderful. Their proud grandparents spruik about them constantly. Don’t ever ask grandma and granddad about the kids or you could end up with tired ears and red thoughts. You can believe it!
The latest is that when his mother told him the hug he gave her was ‘a real hug’ she was asked, ‘What are the elements of a real hug, Mummy?’ The next day when he was giving granddad his new real big hug I noticed he was also patting him on the back.  I leaned over and quietly asked, ‘Is the patting part of a real hug?’ In his own special way he grinned and answered, ‘Of course!’
He had said a year or so before that he had ‘blue’ thoughts for ‘special circumstances’ and I gather the ‘real hugs’ come under that colour. 
However they are very ‘normal’ children and drive their mum and dad often to ‘red thoughts’ each day.  But at night, when they are asleep you cannot stop smiling at them with loving golden thoughts. Many thanks to God for lending them to us in all their brilliant colours of red, green, white and the occasional blue.

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