Maurice has already made an appearance on the blog on the post “2017 Stories of Autism Introduction.” If haven’t taken a look at that post already, please do so. It gives a general overview to the Stories of Autism project and a little insight into Maurice’s life. When I arrived at Maurice’s house, his mother had his box of drawing journals and notebooks on the table. She had already explained to me how much art was essential to the way he processes emotions. As Maurice sat down and began to look through his past work, I took note of his surroundings. Behind him is a case full of the family’s school art projects. He sits at a table that was hand-crafted by his father. Even the colors in the room and the little rainbows of light dancing on him suggest the value of art and creativity in this family.
It was a joy to witness.
From his mother’s essay:
The other day Maurice told me about a man he knew who had an “angry blaming brain.” I asked him about what kind of brain he had, and he told me, “a courageous brain.” And he is so right! Over the last 17 years, Maurice has faced his fears, pushed through years of not being able to communicate, and has worked to achieve peace in his body and mind.
It was so hard when he was diagnosed at two years old. I think I cried every day for an entire year. I am a school librarian and I picked every baby book with care and read them to him a zillion times, and it hurt so much to watch him just stare at the pages and never say “duck” or “ball.” And then when he started to stim by making a little hum and grunt as he mindlessly turned pages, I felt something like horror. Where was my child’s mind and soul? Did he know who he was? What kind of life would he have?
And then I remember the day that he figured out that if he said the name of a stuffed animal, I would put it on his bed. He threw them off and I happily handed them back for hours, just to hear those glorious words!
Fast forward 12 years; he is seventeen. He independently rides a bike and swims to relax. He cooks food when he is hungry. He reads at a fifth grade level. He participates in theater and writes adaptations of folk tales that include family members and friends. He draws comic illustrations of people he knows that show exactly what they think and feel. He taught himself how to do that by watching Blue’s Clues!He trusts me now, despite all those years of frustrating and angry moments when we couldn’t communicate. It started when he allowed me to carry his transition toys, but now he hands me his feelings and his worries. We talk about how to “let ideas flow through your brain like a river” rather than get stuck on them.One day I called him at home and asked him what he was doing and he told me that he was “practicing life balance.” He still gets upset when he thinks he has done something wrong, but he believes me when I tell him that “practice will do the work.” In those golden moments, trust fills the part of my heart that was bleak and empty when he was young.
Jennifer, mother of Maurice