The night sat clear and chilly upon our cheeks as it slipped in through the large gap in the ceiling. The shades on all the windows encircling the room were tightly drawn; it was hard to make out anything besides the figures of people waiting in line to peer through the telescope.
“Now look straight through,” the professor instructed Logan. “See that bright white dot? That’s Saturn.”
“Awesome!” Logan exclaimed.
We were in the observatory at the college where I work, observing stars, planets, and galaxies far, far away. So far away that the light emanating from Andromeda, a fuzzy white oval in another telescope’s lens, had left that galaxy during Earth’s Ice Age, we were told. In a way, it was almost like looking back in time; it’s funny how things like that are always easier to see.
If only we had a telescope inward, one that could illuminate my son’s world. Does he feel different? Does he wish things were easier for him? What’s best for him?
Logan’s cousin, a tween, came with us to the observatory. Logan doesn’t see him all that often, but Parker’s always been one of Logan’s favorite people, one he’s always thrilled to play with.
“Did I hear someone take out the blocks?” Logan asks Parker, then howls with laughter.
Parker is clearly perplexed, then annoyed. And why not? He has no idea what this means, nor why Logan finds it so funny.
“Logan, honey,” I say. “He doesn’t understand. Remember, he wasn’t at daycare when your teacher said it.”
The back story is a few weeks ago, there was a scuffle among some of the daycare kids over the blocks. His teacher put them away, declaring them off-limits. At some point later, she must have asked, “Did I hear someone take out the blocks?”
This one is easy to take a telescopic look at. First, I only know the explanation from piecing together bits of scattered details from Logan about it, and asking his teacher. Second, I have no idea why it’s funny to him–somehow, the way the words sound or the structure just appeals to him, I guess. He repeats it often at home, laughing every time, and eagerly shouts it every morning when we see the daycare teacher. It’s become a shared thing between them, like an inside joke.
Everyone has inside jokes. But as my last look at this moment, I don’t think Logan understands the “inside” part of it–he assumes Parker will find the phrase just as hilarious as he does. I don’t think Parker’s confusion even registers with Logan–Logan is laughing and doesn’t see that no one else is with him. My heart goes out to him as he’s so eager to engage others in his world yet doesn’t realize they aren’t always equipped for the journey.
Speaking of journeys, it has now been two years since we started our diet journey to see what changes, if any, it meant for Logan. We watched and watched and watched, and despite the wisdom of one of my favorite quotes–you can observe a lot just by watching**–I’m not sure what really we’ve observed.
Just like you don’t really see your children grow taller day by day, you also don’t really see progress with autistic symptoms on a daily basis. I remember the pain I felt trying to see progress the first few weeks and months of the diet and coming up with nothing. Those were bleak days. For me, now that the diet has become more routine, days are much, much better.
But the same isn’t true for my husband, who keeps saying he wants to quit the diet. Or, ease up on the diet, which to me would be the same thing as discontinuing since it’s based on the theory that any sugar will feed yeast in the gut, allowing it to maintain its stronghold, contributing to autistic behaviors. But Jason doesn’t know what changes we’ve seen that we can attribute to diet–maybe, he wonders, Logan’s improvements are more due to social skills classes. Or simply growing up.
It’s hard to say how deflated I feel by this. Like a star burning out, maybe. I understand how hard the diet is for Jason, our primary cook, and for Logan. And I know we don’t know “for sure” about anything. But I feel we have seen proof-positive the effects milk has had on Logan’s behavior, making him more aggressive and less communicative. I also feel I see behavioral changes with increased fruit consumption: When Logan eats fruit frequently, he becomes more scattered, less focused, and more wiggly. If I limit his snacks to apples only once or twice a week, he seems to have better days.
But his ears do still blaze red occasionally. Sometimes he persists with things like, “Did someone take out the blocks?” And often he still zones out, lost in the infinite space of himself.
On the larger journey, it’s been three years since Logan was diagnosed with autism. And after a month of kindergarten, the school psychologist and his special education teacher say they have been impressed with him–they were expecting much more challenging, rigid behaviors. In fact, for his IEP re-evaluation, they want to test and observe him again to see if he should even fall on the spectrum at all anymore.
We’ll find out what they have to say at the end of October, but I suspect the diagnosis won’t change. There’s that struggle to connect, that wigglyness and trouble with voice volume. But just the fact that they raise the question, that they think it’s possible he may no longer need support now or sometime soon, feels massive. It’s almost like reaching a star, a planet, a galaxy, that was once light years away.
**Another Yogi Berra quote, two posts in a row.