“For all we know, the first tools on earth might have been developed by a loner sitting at the back of the cave, chipping at thousands of rocks to find the one that made the sharpest spear, while the neurotypicals chattered away in the firelight.” – author unknown
There is a young man in my life. His name is David. His journey is a unique walk along the path called autism. And though I intensely wish to learn more of him and his journey, David’s world cannot be reached … at least in ways my limited human experience allows.
Before David, I felt secure from knowing my communication skills and manners carried me well. That years of training, experience, and more gave me the tools needed when searching for answers and understanding. But upon meeting David, all that changed and I was introduced to life in a much different world.
David gives me a richer understanding of the complexity of life and what being human really represents. Through him I’ve discovered the need to weave a different tapestry … a fabric where the need for thread is known but not the colors … some magic cloth to wrap both David and I as we share moments … a cocoon that might enable a thought to be expressed, exchanged, then reflected back so that a voice might be heard.
Through David I encountered my naivety, clearly seeing there’s so much I do not know … so much I need to re-frame in order to connect even in simple ways with this young man gifted with uniqueness. He’s taught me many times that in his world communication is felt, not spoken. When I hold his hand, I “feel” his presence. I “feel” his humanity churning inside. I “feel” his song ready to be sung … wanting to be sung … and “feel” what possibly is his unclear frustration from an inability to sing it. But unlike the rest of the world I deal with each day, David’s world rests in a place I cannot hear … only “feel”.
Many talk of the day in the future when our world discovers life elsewhere in the universe. They talk about technologies and techniques meant to bridge the gap between such civilizations so that each might stand before the other and reach a new and deeper understanding of life from the other. Yes, talk of the future … anticipating a time when this moment may arise and our view and understanding of the cosmos expands beyond its current, experience-limited boundaries.
But I submit that this time has already arrived. This opportunity to delve into a world far different from our usual day-to-day existence is already exposed to us. That technologist and others now have the opportunity to turn their creative talents and enthusiasm to releasing greater understanding. Here … among us … already within touch is a part of our humanity ready to share with us an incredibly unique understanding of being human. Yet, we only see it as some dim condition rather than this miraculous opportunity to gain insights and understanding of ourselves and life similar to ours yet different.
So let us ask among ourselves … How might we measure success as a society under these conditions? How might we channel the wealth and knowledge of our nation to resolving these conditions? How might we place these conditions upon the ladder of priorities among other tasks standing before us? How might we give a voice to a young man having a song but unable to sing it …