10 months ago



Heather 17 the chaos

Heather 17 the chaos within the bounds of the school property. The mother stops in front of the fence and searches the yard for a glimpse of her daughter, who is nowhere to be seen. She thinks to herself that these children’s games—hopscotch, skipping, tag, and throwing a ball—have been played in one variation or another for centuries. There is a history to these games; they are part of the fabric of childhood. The children are the same; it is the clothes that are different—baseball caps worn backward, high-top sneakers, puffy jackets, trade names displayed proudly as symbols of belonging to a particular culture. These children want to fit in; they want to affiliate with one another, to be a seamless part of their history. The children are all in groups. Some are walking around and talking, no doubt gossiping about who likes whom, making secret plans, forming new clubs, hatching great schemes for after school, like building forts or climbing trees in the nearby ravine. Some are in larger groups playing games, kicking a ball, or simply running around. The movement is dizzying and confusing, and the mother strains her eyes, searching for her daughter. A group of children are gathered by the outdoor gym equipment. Some are playing on the slide, shrieking with delight, or hanging upside down pretending to be monkeys and making silly sounds. The mother focuses on that scene, knowing her daughter loves to swing and to spin on the tire. But there’s no sign of the child who left the apartment this morning and boarded the school bus in her green coat and her cap pulled down firmly over her ears so that she could barely see, all snug against the chill November wind. The mother becomes anxious and wonders if her daughter was kept inside the school. Was she upset or hurt? Had something gone terribly wrong? It is still so difficult to send Heather off to school and to tolerate this anxiety about an entire day spent beyond her mother’s watchful and protective eye. There have been so many phone calls about difficult behavior—biting the teacher, running away, not sitting quietly in circle time, not paying attention, having temper tantrums in assembly. “Please come and pick up your daughter from school as soon as possible,” the anonymous voice says on the other end of the telephone. “Something needs to be done,” as if her mother should have done that “something” (whatever “that” is) to prevent such behavior from occurring in the first place. The bell rings, and all the children begin to file in through the doors. The chaos in the schoolyard starts to resolve itself as two orderly lines form at the doors. A ribbon of children funnel through the en-

18 A MIND APART trance and are taken in by the warmth of the school. As the yard clears, the mother sees her daughter. Off to one side there is an old oak tree. All the leaves have fallen, and some of the branches are now dead. At the base of the tree, a young girl in a green coat and cap goes round and round the girth, with one hand on the bark and the other hand holding an old tattered bathing suit. The little girl has not heard the bell ring and is oblivious to the children going back into school. Round and round she goes, never taking her eyes off the bark, which holds her attention like a lock, her gaze riveted by the patterns of light and dark and by the texture of the wood as she circles the tree. The mother starts to feel panic rising from within, afraid that her daughter will be forgotten. The lessons will start without her. Nobody will notice she is not there, sitting in her seat at the back of the class! Another little girl, the last in the line to go in, notices the child going round and round the tree and hesitates as if undecided what to do. She plucks up her courage and runs to the little girl to speak to her, presumably to tell her that the bell has rung and it is time to go in or else they will get into trouble. The teacher will be cross with them. But the mother knows that this threat cannot tear her away from her fascination with the bark. Indeed the daughter does not look at her helpmate, does not respond to her. The endless rivulets of bark, the way they travel into the earth, the brightness of the dirt, the darkness of the spaces between the tree’s covering—that is what she sees, and that is what holds her attention. The friend leaves and goes into the school somewhat confused. The mother’s sense of foreboding and dread rises, and she starts to run along the fence that separates her from her daughter. She must get to the entrance and reach her little girl before she gets in trouble again. The fence seems too long, and she runs along the edge shouting “Heather! Heather!” But those shouts, which are now the only sound on the schoolyard that just a moment ago was so noisy, echo off into the gray emptiness of the sky. Finally she reaches the opening in the fence and rushes across the yard to her daughter’s side. Out of breath, she asks, “Heather, what are you doing, honey? It’s time to go in for school.” Hearing a voice she recognizes, the little girl turns around and looks up at the mother. The corners of her mouth turn up slightly. But there is no exuberant sense of pleasure at this unexpected meeting. It is as if this unnatural moment is the most normal thing in the world. Panting and out of breath, the mother says, “Let’s go in.” She takes her daughter by the hand, just as she has done every day of Heather’s short

New Zealand Autism Spectrum Disorder Guideline - Ministry of Health
Autism Spectrum Disorders: Pervasive ... - New Avenues
Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) - The Meadows Center for ...
"From Albert Einstein to Napoleon Dynamite: Diagnosing Autism ...
Early Intervention for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Reaching and Teaching Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders
Developmental outcomes in young children with Autism and ...
Six New Things About Autism That Will Influence the Future
A Journey with Autism - CARD USF - University of South Florida
Building Bridges: Dental Care for Patients with Autism -
Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder A Guide for Eligibility ...
Nursing of Autism Spectrum Disorder - Springer Publishing
Mental Health Issues in Autism Spectrum Disorders - CHERI - The ...
Building Bridges: Dental Care for Patients with Autism -
DSM-5: The New Diagnostic Criteria For Autism Spectrum Disorders
How the Brain Thinks in Autism: Implications for Language Intervention
A Parent's Guide to Autism Spectrum Disorder - NIMH - National ...
Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorders (Cambridge Child ...
Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities
Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities
Unstrange Minds Remapping the World of Autism - AUTEA
Jones/Ottley Powerpoint - Oklahoma Autism Network
Therapies for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders
a handbook for parents of children with autism spectrum disorders