Invisible Barrier

Those of you who have interacted with an autistic person surely understand frustration. Most of my experience is with my low-functioning, nonverbal, autistic brother. However, the fact that he is so much different than other people has probably saved me from even more frustration. It is hard for me to imagine what it must be like to try interacting with an autistic individual who can function at a higher level. The closest situation I can imagine is being in a foreign country without knowing language or even gestures to make myself understood.

When I was very young (in the 1950s, 1960s) my mother helped set up a school for my brother and other, higher functioning kids. There was one boy, Bobby A___, who talked to me. I don’t remember any conversations, but he could talk. Why was he going to the same school as Mike? I asked my mother what was wrong with him. I think she said, “Bobby doesn’t know how to love.” I am embarrassed at how harsh this sounds. Maybe my mother didn’t tell me this, but somehow the phrase comes to mind when I think of him. I realize now that Bobby A___ was probably autistic. How could one explain the invisible communication barrier to a child at that time?

I may have written about the barrier in previous posts. It is something I think of often. One of my journal entries from 1989 refers to this very issue. I don’t know why it suddenly ends; I can’t even reconstruct the thought.

handwritten autism journal entry with picture

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