Last weekend we went skiing at Jiminy Peak with Martin’s friend Bobby, his neurotypical brother Adam, and their parents. Martin and Bobby took their ski lessons with Stride Adaptive Sports, a terrific organization similar to the National Ability Center, our Utah mainstay.
Monday morning (no school, for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day), I retrieved Martin after his lesson and chatted with the instructor.
“Your son is an absolute pleasure to work with,” the instructor said. “He’s so talkative. He could be a New York City tour guide!”
That cuts both ways. Martin is obsessed with trains and landmarks, and the location of both. “Mommy, the Chrysler Building is north of the Empire State Building. The Empire State Building is on the same road as the entrance to the Queens-Midtown tunnel. The bottom of Central Park is where Midtown becomes Uptown.”
I said, “Thank you. We’ve worked really hard on his speech and language.”
“Saturday, I had two lessons with boys who were basically non-verbal.” The instructor shook his head. “I just couldn’t break through to them.”
It’s hard to convey the tone the instructor used when he said he “couldn’t break though to them.” He wasn’t speaking scornfully, or with pity, or even with sadness. It was more like he was disappointed in himself, and wished the situation had been otherwise.
I started to say, “I understand.”
But I stopped myself.
Because I can’t understand. Not any of this mess.