Wanta buy an O, anyone?

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 25, 2012




That is what it sounds like my daughter is saying as she walks up and down the hall between the living room and her room. Her voice echoes through the house getting a little louder each time she speaks.

She started saying this a couple of days ago and at first I couldn’t figure out why the word albino was on her mind. Then I listened more closely and understood that what I thought was one word was actually four words running together to sound like something entirely different.

It wasn’t “albino,” at all.

“I’ll buy an O.”

“I’ll buy an O.”

“I’ll buy an O.”

Those were the words she said but with no space between each one. I knew that came from something she heard on one of her favorite television game shows, “Wheel of Fortune.” Mystery solved.

Of course, that is just one of many mysteries that are part of living with a person who happens to have autism. In fact, most of living with her is a mystery because she has such a challenge expressing herself in ways that I understand. At least that is true when it comes to sharing a conversation where there is give and take.

Most of her speech is phrases like “I’ll buy an O” mixed in with one or two word requests for something she needs or wants. I encourage her to put those requests in sentence form. Sometimes she does, most times she doesn’t, but I know what she means.

Every now and then, she gets stuck on a phrase that isn’t something you want her to repeat standing in the checkout line. For example, I heard her repeating the lines from a commercial, and yes, she said them full volume at Wal Mart one day.

“News flash, sometimes my period isn’t awesome,” was what I heard from behind me in the checkout line.

I tried to shush her and that worked for a minute, but the news flash started over this time at a little higher volume. You get interesting looks from folks in situations like this one.

To say that my child is uninhibited when it comes to saying whatever happens to be in her head is an understatement. And, it seems she doesn’t care what anyone thinks or at least the best I can tell she isn’t bothered much, which might be a good thing for me to copy.

Over the years, I’ve learned to roll with what comes my way with this amazing person. I thought about that a lot this month as I read all the things on the internet and in the media about National Autism Month. Funny, I don’t wonder much about what my life, our family’s life, would be like if autism wasn’t a part of it.

I do wish I understood more about how my child sees and experiences the world, and hopefully that is something the research they are doing on autism will reveal. I’d like to know if she has dreams that she can’t share. I want to understand how she feels about things, and if there is anything I can do to make her life fuller and easier.

Of course, I’ve wondered this through a lot of years of National Autism Months and I’m still hopeful that at some point when I hear “albino” or “I’ll buy an O” or even “News Flash…” I’ll understand why she repeats the words; I’ll know how they perhaps comfort her or help her deal with stress. Maybe someday I’ll understand it all and know for sure that she is as happy as she seems most of the time.

Until them, I’m blessed to share the adventure I’m having with my youngest daughter, Mikelyn, as we joyfully navigate our way through our two different experiences of living in this world.