We spent a couple nights at Harbin Hot Springs, with J and Jess. It's a nice place, full of hippies. I mean really full of hippies. On the wall was a flyer for a class taught by the "Poet Laureate Emeritus of Lake County." (Not making this up.) That's weird enough if you don't think counties usually have poets laureate; it's weirder if you know that Lake County is mostly known for Indian casinos and crystal meth.
Harbin has hot pools, cold pools, some nice trails, honey-sweetened chocolates for sale at the health-food store. We scored a sweet campsite, on a platform next to the creek. There was the usual amount of slacking and reading. J was unusually fragile, with lots of angry and meltdown moments. The latest thing to address is his habit of collapsing in a puddle on the floor when something goes wrong. Besides being weird and quite challenging to deal with even if you're used to it, he does it without any great regard for his own safety, so sometimes he hurts himself, and the initial freakout gets completely blown away by the utter meltdown that usually comes with an injury. (I say "injury" here in a general sense. Usually it's a scratch or a bump; one time he "got sad" and started kneeling down on the ground, but knelt on something pointy. Commence the shrieking.)
I had the beginnings of an interesting conversation with a woman in the kitchen, when I sat J down for a snack. She looked over and said, "He's not autistic, by any chance?".
"Yeah, Asperger's. Though we haven't talked about it yet."We managed to have at least a bit of conversation about her high-functioning autistic daughter, but at various points the woman was spelling out words, in some kind of attempt to keep J from understanding. I was too surprised, and too busy trying to understand her, to explain that J learned how to read when he was 3 or 4, and mostly without anyone teaching him: he just started reading sentences out loud one day. He spells out long words at us, just for fun.
That's the first time any of his parents have explicitly talked about his Asperger's within earshot. Anna is still prepping the conversation with him about it; more specifically, prepping his dad, who may not be entirely on board. J needs to know, though. He knows he's different, and he does all these various therapy things that other kids don't do, and he has trouble doing things other kids find easy. (Like most of us, he's not so good at noticing the things he is good at.)
The woman and I had this conversation while J was eating ravenously, compounding the usual impossibility of knowing when he's actually listening to the sounds around him. He'll often stare off into space, and sometimes you can say his name repeatedly and tap him on the forehead and he won't notice because he's off in his own internal world; other times, you can fail to get his attention in the same way, but twenty minutes later he will demonstrate perfect recall of everything he overheard. The "interesting" outcome would be if he asks his dad about the Asperger's comment before asking us: there's an unfortunate conflict if his dad freaks out or generally doesn't go with the flow of there being a diagnosis and his kid not being the idealized imaginary (neurotypical) kid he sometimes thinks or wishes he has.
Like J's life isn't confusing enough already.