The word of the day today according to Dictionary.com is anagnorisis. In case you didn’t know it either, it means “the critical moment of recognition or discovery, especially preceding ‘peripeteia’ in Greek tragedies – the latter meaning an abrupt reversal of circumstances. Call it aha moment, or the hit me with a plank of wood on the head moment.
Autism is so full of “anagnorsis,” or perhaps we should just call it serendipity. Yesterday W. was the picture of the word at a local food pantry where he used to work with a former school. The word “fabulous” also applied. W. was a machine stocking industrial shelving with pallets full of canned goods donated by Wal-Mart and the local Hannaford supermarket (a shout out for their generosity.) Perhaps it was the familiar environment, or the known tasks, or the repetitive, motoric nature that fit for him. But he took delight in his work. And I took delight in him, as did the staff who treated him with respect and gratitude – as is deserved for us all but not necessarily always found.
The sudden reversal of circumstances occurred about 4 hours later, when W. suddenly decided his high-top basketball shoes were not the ticket and pitch-tossed them for over an hour as we attempted to go have our usual 2-mile walk at the gym. He needed exercise, his brother J. needed exercise, I needed exercise, but instead W. sat in the car pitching shoes and socks into other seats insisting he was not going to wear them. We spent 45 minutes (no joke) on this task and I never got out of the car. About the only plus to the event was the incredible practice he got in double-tying his shoes – dramatically improved proficiency in pulling those long loops for a great double-tie. The shoe experience does follow on Sunday’s church dress shoe pitch-toss and refusal to wear those either. Hmmm, says the observant mother.
So was it a win, or a loss of a day – and what was my agagnorisis – ? Here at my desktop perch after a reasonable night’s sleep and a supportive chat with the hubby – it was that W. is a complex ball of sensory experiences that I have not yet understood. The other aha, or really a reminder, was that W. has a will to state his needs emphatically, however flawed the language as shoe toss vs words. Certainly I’m delighted to shoe-shop and allow his favorite Croc clogs where appropriate.
A herd of deer crossed my backyard as they foraged in this early springtime where the buds on the trees are barely emerging and they are hungry. Deer have needs, autistic young men have needs, and their mothers certainly have needs. This one needs to know her guys are always on a path to greater capability. So thanks, Dictionary.com, for giving me a new name for those days that otherwise might be called hair-pulling – and for a fork in the road that will bring us to a few new destinations, and an always deepening dialogue with our autistic loved ones if we are but receptive.