The latest statistics from the Centers For Disease Control say that 1 in 110 children have autism, and the figure for boys is 1 in 70. So where are they all? It seems like I see 110 kids in just one trip to Target. On average, like 105 of them are screaming their heads off, but not because they're autistic. Where all our autistic brethren be? It's not like I don't recognize the signs. I just never see any of them out and about. We were just at the mall yesterday where there were tons of kids...if the statistics are correct, there should have been at least one other kid keeping Audrey company flapping her arms at the bottom of the escalator.
One time I saw a boy at the park who looked be about 2 1/2...he couldn't converse much, but he was able to sing several Beatles songs word for word. I thought that I had found a fellow "club" member, but it turned out he just had a nerdlinger Beatlemaniac father who was coaching him to be the next You Tube sensation.
Then there was the time that we were at McDonalds and I saw a boy that appeared to be autistic, but I wasn't sure when I saw a woman using sign language with him. He seemed to be able to hear and speak, but did demonstrate some autistic behaviors. I struck up a conversation with the woman who confirmed that he was indeed autistic, and she explained that, even though he could hear perfectly well, they used sign language because it seemed more effective for him as his "receptive" language. Meaning that he was more likely to pay attention and follow instructions that were signed rather than spoken to him. I had never heard of such a thing, and immediately felt guilty for not having tried this approach with Audrey.
But my feelings of inadequacy didn't end there. This woman looked like a million bucks...smokin' bod, stylish clothes, perfectly coiffed. She could not have possibly been his mother. Besides her physical appearance, she also appeared to bring far too much energy to the situation to be his mother. She was all over him -- signing to him, engaging him, and redirecting him from repetitive behaviors -- while I sat there watching Audrey repeatedly drop an air hockey puck into the goal slot with my face covered in cinnamon melt. I rationalized that she must be a therapist who had him on a community outing. Then I heard him call her “Mommy”. Doh! Why wasn't I wearing size 0 skinny jeans and stiletto-heeled shabooties? Why did I always look like Glen Campbell's mug shot, while she looked like....that?
Something didn't smell right, and it wasn't just my unwashed hair. She claimed that her son went to school in our school district, but didn't seem familiar with any of the teachers, programs, or administrators that I mentioned. And there was something that I just couldn't put my finger on that gave her an air of detachment. Finally, she rounded up her son and said that she had to go...wanted to beat the traffic up to Grayslake. Where she lived. Fifty miles away from where her son lives. A-HA! I knew it. Before I could pry into the circumstances that led to this living arrangement, she was off. Hey, I could look that good too if I lived an hour and a half away from Audrey. Well, maybe not that good. I would probably have to enact my fake-my-own-death plan and get a hell of a lot further away than 50 miles to look that good. But I would look better for sure. I would at least be upgraded from Glen Campbell’s mug shot to Joyce DeWitt’s.