Thursday, October 14, 2004

“Do you ever get the feeling that there’s something going on that we don’t know about?”

The Movie: Diner, 1982 (Barry Levinson, screenwriter and director)
Who says it: Kevin Bacon as Fenwick, a brilliant but lost young man in 1959 Baltimore
The context: City-dwellers Fenwick and Boogie (Mickey Rourke), out in the country, have just seen a beautiful young woman ride by on a horse.
How to use it: When encountering an unfamiliar culture.

Yesterday's leg: 480 miles, 1.75 tanks of gas
Stops: Vinita, OK; Conway, MO; Des Peres, MO
The stop I regret not making: "Barrels of Fun," featuring the World's Largest Barrel, in Lebanon, MO

Thanks to my friend Tom Ehrenfeld for reminding me of today's quotation.

Dizzy and I got a late start yesterday, because I had work to finish in the morning. I have, as usual, overestimated my ability to multi-task and underestimated my need to sleep. We're staying an extra night with the Neelys in St. Louis, so I can get some more work done today and hang out with the kids this evening.

Michelle and I were roommates in Alexandria an embarrassingly long time ago; I was a bridesmaid at her wedding to Chris, and am godmother to their daughter Siobhan. Erin, 5, and Siobhan, 4, are angelic-looking, extremely bright girls who also happen to be autistic. Erin was diagnosed when she was about two and a half, and Siobhan was diagnosed at 11 months.

The early diagnosis, combined with Michelle and Chris's passionate determination to get them the best possible treatment, made all the difference in the world. Erin's in regular kindergarten, and Siobhan will start to be mainstreamed in pre-school next year. If you met them, you probably wouldn't realize they were different from any other little girls, except that they're so bright.

This is not to suggest that they don't still have major challenges ahead. Autism is another country, the saying goes. Erin and Siobhan will always have to work harder than other people to participate fully in this world, and without the constant support and reinforcement they get from their parents and teachers, it would be too easy for them to retreat to that other country.

Besides Erin and Siobhan, Michelle and Chris have Joe, an adorable 10-month-old boy they adopted earlier this year from Korea. Joe thinks Dizzy is the greatest thing he's ever seen; he laughs and flaps his arms whenever Dizzy walks by. Dizzy thinks Joe is pretty great too, because Joe tends to drop Cheerios from his high chair.

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