“God created autism to help offset the excessive number of boring people on earth.”
Or so I read on my Linkedin feed the other day. Wish I could credit the quote, but my research led to no particular name, only to companies that sell shirts.
Surely not everyone linked to autism agrees this was God’s purpose, that there’s an overabundance of boring people or that God even exists.
As for me, I do find a good number of people dull, as I’m sure everyone does. Diego though? I’ll bet you my new car (my most cherished material possession: a chargeable EV no less!) no one who knows him finds him boring. Annoying, exhausting, or hyper for sure. Boring? Not a chance.
Diego, my 27-year-old autistic and cognitively challenged son, happens to be way funnier and more fascinating than the majority of “normal” people I know. And yet, I wouldn’t go as far as suggesting God created autism to add spice to the lives of those around him.
Still, the stuff Diego comes up with can be jaw-dropping, astonishingly original, super sweet or just plain funny.
“Just like in Beauty and the Beast,” for instance, is what he said when we were watching the Capitol riots on the news.
Remember when Gaston, the village strongman, revved up the townsfolk to storm the Beast’s castle because he couldn’t accept the Beast had won Belle over? In case you don’t get the comparison, the villagers would be the rioters, Trump the Beast and Belle the election results.
You may not agree with my politics (totally fine, I assure you!), but the parallels to the political view prevalent in our home are astonishing.
Clever Diego also knows how to find peculiar alternatives as consolation for disappointments big and small.
“OK, I’ll swim in the bathtub tomorrow,” he said, resigned and dead serious, when I didn’t reserve him a lane at the YMCA pool on time.
Diego’s language abounds with original similes and metaphors. He eats krill instead of cereal and prey instead of beef. He runs like a cheetah and patrols the house like a lion. Diego doesn’t need plain medicine when he has a headache. Nothing short of an antidote will do.
“The vaccine made me a little mutated like Stitch [from Disney’s Lilo and Stitch for those without a Disney-obsessed family member],” is what he told me after he got his first Covid vaccine dose.
No doubt about it, boring Diego decidedly is not. Quite the opposite, he’s intense, so much so he also tries my patience, everyday, multiple times a day.
No question gets a straight answer but a string of associations.
Here’s an example from when we used a spelling app I downloaded for him. After hearing a word, Diego had to select the correct digraph to finish spelling the word.
“Flash,” the playback went. Diego needed to select “sh” to complete “fla___”, but just hearing the word triggered: “The Flash in The Justice League. The Flash runs and saves people. He looks like my cousin Jolu…”
“Cash,” was the next word. “I use cash when I go to McDuff’s and pay for dinner. I see Davina at McDuff’s. She was my babysitter when I was little. I love Davina…” He’ll go on and on and on until I interrupt the string of associations. It takes FOREVER to get through one exercise.
Then there’s Diego’s need to write everything down and to keep every single piece of paper containing his illegible records.
“From now on, you can only text me twice a day when I’m at work,” I said to Diego the other night while helping him brush his teeth. He had texted me no fewer than 47 times that day.
“I gotta write it down, the new rule,” he said, interrupting the toothbrushing. He has a tendency to turn advice and requests into rules.
“But Diego, you can just remember it,” I suggested.
“My brain’s too little. It can fail.”
Reading a book with Diego sometimes drives me nuts too. I get interested in the content but we can barely get through one page. We were reading about polar animals one day and we couldn’t get through a sentence without Diego pausing to reflect out loud that polar bears are like gladiators and seals are like football players fighting and the Super Bowl was in February and Abuelo loves to watch football…
Then too there are his various preoccupations, dating being a consuming one.
“Can all the Hollywood actresses date me?” And he proceeded to list every single actress within 25 years of his age.
“Can Margot Robbie date me? How about Gal Gadot, Jennifer Gardner, Anna Kendrick, Jennifer Connelly, Brie Larson….” At this point, I tuned him out until the naming of names was interrupted, momentarily, by the assertion, “Not the James Bond girls, they’re violent. Oh, I forgot, Kristen Dunst, Anne Hathaway, Nichole Kidman…”
Yep. Diego’s a high-maintenance adult child. But he’s also the most caring and grateful persons I know and I love him exactly as he is. Well, almost exactly.