How am I going to know if Martin recovers?
Martin’s autism, for me, is defined by negatives. He doesn’t ask questions. He doesn’t respond to his name. He doesn’t pay attention. He doesn’t use pronouns. He doesn’t have strong fine motor skills.
I wonder how neurotypicality will be defined. If I remove the “n’t” from each of those sentences, is Martin recovered? Or will he need to achieve some level of “can do” before we call him neurotypical?
The determination will be easiest if I can define recovery be negatives, too, by unusual behaviors discontinuing. For example, I’m writing this at the airport, waiting for a flight. Martin is seated in the chair next to me, playing with a toy train. He is not crawling under the row of seats trying to wedge himself into the smallest, most secure crevice available (which he used to do). At the security checkpoint he did not refuse to hold my hand and did not bolt. He has not had a potty accident all morning.
On the other hand, he did sort of freak out and refuse to wash his hands when the bathroom had only hot-air dryers, no paper towels. (I had some paper towels in our travel backpack. Meltdown averted.) What if he had not panicked at the thought of trying the hot-air dryer? Then would this be a neurotypical trip to the airport? Probably not. He still can’t ask questions or speak very clearly.
So I suppose our journey will end with a magic combination, when the peculiar behaviors cease and Martin attains skills that rival an average neurotypical peer’s.
Which I also suppose means our journey may never end. I mean, I engage in peculiar behaviors. (As far as I know, it is not normal that I refuse to start the washing machine until I’ve located each of our four cats, to make sure none is in the washer. Even though I’ve just checked the washer and confirmed that no cats are inside. Twice.) Moreover, I lack any sense of direction, can’t draw more than a stick figure, and couldn’t sing on key to save my life. So I would say I can’t find a new location, illustrate, or sing as well as an average peer, neurotypical or otherwise. Come to think of it, despite being athletic, I can’t even play basketball. Just not a skill I have.
My “can do” is not up to snuff. Looks like I need a recovery journey, too.