The Impossible Dream – Autism

For memories to begin to fade—to grow dimmer—literally requires nothing more than the simple passage of time. The older I get, the more obvious this becomes.

Even still, I have relatively vivid recollections from childhood (though many of them involve the World whizzing around me with my having very little recognition of what was happening as it did).

One thing I remember pretty well, is that as a child, for some short time, there was either no television in the house, or I was unaware of and unconcerned with its existence. This was not a function of my parents’ cheapness or unwillingness to invest in “new technologies.” Rather, it was a reality of television being so new that most folks didn’t yet have it, or see the sense in procuring it.

I still remember the first (black and white) TV, coming into our household (at least the first one of which I was aware—and I think the actual first one). I remember bad pictures, I remember all stations shutting down at some hour of the night. I remember programming for “all ages” (read here “mostly not for children”).

In the course of time, TV switched from black and white to color, and there began to be times where children had something to watch (mostly cartoons and variety shows initially).

All that said, television didn’t become “important to my life” until I was well into my twenties.

Most of my younger life, there were three or less “stations,” and you were “at their mercy” for what you could see.

As time went on, the variety of possibilities increased; you got more channels, VCRs and similar allowed folks to record and play back, etcetera.

These days, in the era of “smart televisions,” tablets, laptops, smart phones and the like, all that I’m recalling seems like ancient history; relics of a bygone age. Perhaps that’s not a totally unfair characterization.

This all “matters” because things like complex cartoons, and television shows with special effects and the like did not exist in my childhood. They came along only when I was getting older, and even then were very simplistic by comparison to what most toddlers experience today.

My (Moderately Autistic) son lives in a totally different World than the one in which I spent my childhood, and it turns out, that’s a pretty significant thing.

You see, my child (as, I assume is the case for many Autistic children, and some who are not Autistic) has an exceptionally difficult time separating flights of fancy from cold, hard reality. Nowhere does this become more obvious, than when he speaks of what he desires after having watched various things on television.

There are numerous children’s “television programs” (mostly these days, it’s things that are “streamed” on a variety of application based content viewing services), that depict graveyards, in anything but a “realistic light,” as an example.

I cannot tell you how many times my child has been subjected to ghouls and zombies coming out of graves, ghosts “haunting,” and supernatural occurrences in cemeteries.

Perhaps your experiences have been different than my own, but for the most part, I have found burial grounds to be places to somberly reflect on the passing of ones long (or not so long) gone. I’m not saying none of the things depicted in the “programs” in question are, or could be true. Even so, I have never seen such a thing. Equally importantly, the episodic content in question virtually never paints them in any other light.

The result of this? My child was enamored of graveyards. He was always talking about them, noticing them as we passed them by, asking to go to them. In the end, I succumbed and took him through (in car) a couple of local cemeteries.

You should know, where my family has history in the area where I now live, to the best of my knowledge, none of my family has plots or graveyards anywhere in this region. That meant that I had to take him to burial places that were not only unfamiliar to me, but where it was likely we technically had no business.

Fortunately, most folks are entirely and blissfully unaware who does and who doesn’t have “business in” a given burial plot. Additionally, we had the good fortune, to not be in any of the memorial sites when others were there (nobody to look at one with displeasure for interrupting their visitation with those passed).

I have no idea whether my boy will redevelop his interest in graveyards, but for now, I seem to have sated them.

This is one scenario with which I was able to easily deal. There are others—some very difficult, some impossible—still to be “covered” in some way.

Many of the more outrageous shows spend their time doing things like lumping together mythologies from a variety of cultures. Egyptian historical mythology is a favorite. The result is, for a couple of reasons, my child has decided he wants to go to Egypt. Of course, he doesn’t want to go to the country as it exists, he wants to see the things he’s been “promised by” the various representations. Could I take him to Egypt (assuming I could afford so to do)? Yes. Would he get from that experience, what he hoped to and believed that he would? Not at all.

Even this is not an example of the “least tangible” things he as come to desire. There is a “baseball arena” in a cartoon that does not exist. Even if it did, the things happening in the cartoon would assuredly not be occurring there. My progeny would like nothing more that he can imagine at present than to go to that place—and he believes it’s real, and regularly questions why we’re unable to go there.

I have no doubt that children who are not even a little Autistic have similar beliefs of reality of such imaginings, but I also believe that, for the most part, parents are able to convince their children of the “unreality” of the things their child desires to be concrete.

I spent weeks trying to convince my son that talking dogs (read here, “the like of Scooby-Doo”) are not real. I still think he comes back to the belief they’re actually a thing. Such is my life, and his.

My time is at an end where this article is concerned. I just wanted to give you a “peek under the hood” of the Autistic mind. I hope this article has served to do that.

Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.


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