Jake and I have been practicing having casual conversations via the letter board. Since he was not able to converse for the first two decades of his life, I figured practicing would be a good idea.
Here I numbered a list of 24 common casual conversation topics. I had Jake pick a number from 1-24. He picked #2 which was “Movies.” Not one of Jake’s favorite things (he rarely watches movies), but this 60min+ discussion was very enlightening as to why…..
Jake: Not much like watching movies.
Mom (Tara/Me): I’ve noticed you’re not a big movie fan. Your dad and I love watching movies. Why aren’t you a fan?
Jake: Not easy to make myself able involve with the story.
Mom: That makes sense, does your mind wander elsewhere?
Jake: Most of the time.
Mom: Does it bother you when your dad and I watch a movie?
Jake: Sometimes I don’t mind. Not much like real violent stuff.
Mom: Me and you both! It really disturbs me, even if I know it’s just actors. I get sick to my stomach. Just not my idea of entertainment.
Jake: Not much have already happened.
Mom: No, most are not true stories. They’re usually fiction or imagined stuff. Still I’d rather watch funny stuff, like comedies.
Jake: Not most good enough to interest me. I not interested in other’s stories.
Mom: You seem to enjoy hearing other’s stories in books – why is a movie less fun for you?
Jake: Not deal only my mind at looking at what is happening.
Mom: That’s right, when you listen to a book you picture things in your mind but a movie is both telling and showing you the story. With a book we can each have a different image in our mind.
Jake: Most true.
Mom: What about cartoons like Scooby Doo, the Aristocats, Snoopy, Toy Story?
Jake: Sometimes love those too much, and I get stuck.
Mom: Yes, I have my favorites too, ones I could watch over and over! Pretty much all those I mentioned and more….
Jake: Not same as me, I deal more emotion.
Mom: The good thing about movies on DVDs is that they’re always available, so you don’t have to panic when it’s over. You can always put it back in at another time.
Jake: Not logical, I know. Really so much most not pleased about how I feel.
Mom: Well, you do a pretty good job overcoming your strong feelings with logic. You’ve gotten better and better at that.
Jake: Most times I not want to chance it, so I don’t watch them.
Mom: That makes perfect sense, very wise! “Know thyself” as the saying goes, and you know yourself best. I’m glad you can explain things to me now.
Jake: Most times I not really too interested in the movie, have to have good music.
Mom: I’ve definitely noticed that you’re more interested when a movie has good music or soundtrack. Any specific ones come to mind as a favorite?
Jake: Really most some songs towards the end I enjoy.
Mom: See, I love that about you. You notice awesome details that I’ve never really thought about. Movies usually do have a cool song at the end when they’re running the credits. You always stop us from turning it off because you’re listening to it while we’re just thinking “OK , the movie is done.”
Jake: Not deal so great not hearing the whole song.
Mom: Hey, we all have unique things we enjoy. You enjoy hearing the whole song at the end – that’s OK. What about our new basement movie set-up, your dad’s new thing. What are your thoughts about it?
Jake: Not so hard to deal on real huge screen.
Mom: So you think it will be OK to watch a movie downstairs once a week?
Jake: Too excited, most want to see nice movies that have great music.
Mom: Me too! That sound system is awesome.
Jake: Not only too much sound, excites me too much.
Mom: So not too loud, huh?
Jake: Most important.
Jake: I not so nice all time, so need to be in good mood.
Mom: We can always check with you first, and you can always hang out in the other room or upstairs.
Jake: Only my ears can not tune it out no matter where I am.
Mom: You do have very sensitive hearing!
Jake: Only I hear everything, that is sort of why I prefer real silence.
Mom: Even in silence, there’s a lot of noises – isn’t there?
Jake: Not really much I can do, have to get used to most real life noises.
At the age of 22 he began expressing his very personal thoughts and feelings more fluently with me (his mom), and it was his idea to begin writing “The Story of My Life” one day. He is diagnosed with severe autism as well as intermittent explosive disorder. He has given me permission to share his story and our conversations.
Jake continually expresses his desire to “find purpose” to his life…I hope his willingness to share will help others learn about this misunderstood condition known as “autism” that has so much to teach us all.