As a person living with autism Ryan has real difficulty understanding the nuances of language. Sarcasm and subtle humor are really beyond him. The world of autism is black and white with no shades of gray. At least for Ryan. That’s why these two incidents struck me as so funny. Is he developing some sense of humor at last? Or is he just being a teenager? You tell me.
I was up in the room he shares with Kevin last night and it was a disaster. This really doesn’t happen too often, Ryan prefers order. When I came down I told Ryan he needed to "straighten up" the room before he went to bed. The next morning when I walked into the room to wake my boys there was still a bunch of stuff on the floor. "Ryan", I said, "why didn’t you clean your room like I asked?" "You asked me to straighten the room", he said, "those piles of clothes are much straighter."
I could have just let him have it, but he was sincere in thinking he had accomplished something and so I chose to laugh.
Today we were driving to the Cottage. It was just Ryan and the twins in the car with me. I was distracted by what I had going on that day, kids all over Long Island all needing to be picked up, dropped off, shuttled around, babies needing naps, and a torrential rain was going on. So I missed a turn going to the Cottage and then missed a turn to go back.
This made Ryan nervous, he didn’t want to be late, he was going to rehearsal and Ryan is gifted with an internal MapQuest. He has no idea why people don’t instinctively know where they are going. Having been driven somewhere once ten years ago he can give you uncannily accurate directions to get back there. It’s a useful gift.
He then, with barely controlled patience (where did he pick that language nuance up:)?) directed me back to where we needed to be.
"I’m so glad to have you as a navigator", I said with a big smile thinking he would like the compliment. Without missing a beat he replied, "well you certainly need one."
It just struck me funny. First because he is right. Second because for a minute there he was just another teenage boy goofing on his mom. No disability, no oddness just banter between a mom and her son. When you have oddness all the time you treasure these little moments of clarity and companionship. They are the moments that let me know he’s in there, he’s waiting to find out how let the real Ryan out and it is slowly happening, a moment at a time.
Or he could just be goofing on mom.