Today is World Autism Awareness Day.
It is, like most things, controversial in the autism community. A subject for another day.
The reason I don’t wear blue is simple.
The person I love who is on the autism spectrum despises this initiative.
Ben used to think it was cool. Cool that people all over the world were recognizing a day to be aware of autism.
His middle school, which is a great school and was a wonderful place for him, encourages students to wear blue by rewarding their behaviour. They get points for their yearlong good behaviour program (named something else) if they wear blue.
Not inherently bad.
As Ben pointed out, “they are only doing this for the stickers. It’s not like they are actually nice or more accepting of me and my autism. So it’s totally fake.”
That’s what Ben said. He said they weren’t accepting.
Maybe he’s on to something.
So out of respect.
And because we accept Ben.
No blue here at Beit Schorr.
Except for Lilly.
Who wants the points.
And, as Ben also remarked,
“she, of all people, totally deserves those points.”
28 February 1990
Music Theory II
As always, Dr. Arlin strode into the classroom precisely at 7:59am. Only on this particular day, she had a bit of schmutz on her forehead.
It is a darn good thing that I thought to silently count to five before saying anything. Because the poor sod who inquired was on the receiving end of quite the lecture.
In my defense and to the best of my recollection,I had never seen anyone observe Ash Wednesday prior to that brisk, snowy day in February. Given the observance includes ashes placed on one’s forehead by the priest or minister, I imagine I would have noticed it.
Ash Wednesday, for those of the Mosaic persuasion, is the start of the forty-six day period before Easter, commonly known as Lent. If childhood experience is to serve as the basis for my knowledge, then Lent would be the period when one gives up chocolate. Seriously. Every one of my Catholic friends gave up chocolate for Lent — every year. Leading me to the misguided conclusion that (a) Lent was a holiday about refraining from chocolate and (b) Lent doesn’t really work…and it’s better to just do the Ten Days of Repentance, culminating in Yom Kippur.
Dr. Arlin was, without question, the most demanding and most intimidating professor with whom I studied. I also learned more about music theory from her than from anyone else. I learned as well how to stand tall and walk through one’s day while observing a religious behaviour that was unknown to most.
I have thought of her every Ash Wednesday for the past twenty-five years and pray that her Lenten season is filled with meaning and purpose.
*an earlier version of this appeared on Frume Sarah’s World in 2011.