Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Autistic Boy (Mine) and an Uncanny Memory

My son, Nick, has a talent besides being a great boy, a prince of a son and a super video game player, he can recall stories, events and people, including their names, better than anyone I’ve ever known. It’s interesting how his mind works; he could be doing anything, like having a snack, jumping on his trampoline or walking around the house and stop and say to me:

“Mom, do you remember having lunch in (… town) at Uno’s restaurant with (… people).”

And I would say, “Oh, yeah, about 10 years ago!! And what were their names?” And he would recall each of their names--like a BLAST from the past--and sometimes even where they sat or what they had said. Wow, where did that come from??

When he was only 5 years old, we were entertaining extended members of the family from out of state (a family reunion due to a wedding) and about 15 of us met for dinner at a restaurant and Nick was introduced to everyone only once (and much earlier that day) and someone asked him if he knew all the people at the table. He said yes, but I could still tell that people underestimated him (the label thing) so I did the “mom thing” and interrupted the speaker and said: “I bet Nick can tell us all everyone’s name.” (I couldn’t help myself, but I knew he would enjoy it.) I was holding my breath because I knew that I could never do what I challenged him to do, especially at 5; but, sure enough, as he circled the table—the room fell dead silent—and promptly pointed to each person and gave us their name, followed by a huge cheer and a high five for one red-faced, belittling uncle.

So, as one can imagine when we meet new people or I have to visit his school for an open house or a breakfast function (dread those), I can always rely on Nick to remember a person’s name even if he had only met the person for the first time himself. Relying on Nick for a bit of his “handy” skill is like our own little pact—only he doesn’t know it’s our little pact. It’s a secret pact, shhhh!!! I know this because sometimes he would choose to shut down and not participate in this little game of mine by withholding such valuable, pertinent and juicy information as if he’s not interested in “playing” because he’s either far more interested in what he’s doing or thinking about at that moment (and, seemingly, he cannot be disturbed) or he likes to tease me as if I should already know the answer and doesn’t believe me when I tell him I don’t (he thinks I know everything—where did he come up with that idea??) You’ve got the power my son!!

It could get very tricky because I’d just be sitting there at this function and panicked at the sight of a woman (who looks very familiar) approaching our table damn, what’s her name. So I have two choices: either start reciting the alphabet (a name recalling technique when I’m in a jam—and not always successful) or “Pssst, Nick, help me and tell me who’s that woman coming over, her name … just her name and I’ll start, Mrssss ... ?”

“Ah, I don’t know.”
“Yes you do, tell me ...”
“Ahhhh …” (cue GREAT BIG SMIRK)
Ooooh, don’t you tease me now!!

Call it a skill. Call it a talent. Call it a remarkable memory. But please, please call it a prerequisite for a very high paying and secure job!!!

1 comment:

Casdok said...

Lol!! Could i borrow Nick!!