Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Logos and Emblems and Labels, Oh My!

Many children with Asperger's Syndrom, Autism, or any other Autistic Spectrum Disorders tend to display areas of exceptional aptitude. Since these "disorders" (which are quite orderly) affect an area of the brain, our understanding of how these children think and view life is quite immeasurable. At the age of two (2), Alden really had little interest in reading books with mom and dad. Alden's interest sparked when I pulled out the phone book to look up a phone number and address for a local body shop. I never saw his big eyes light up so much in excitement when he yelled, "AT&T!" Of course, I was amazed at his ability to recognize the AT&T logo, but I had no idea that the AT&T was only the prelude to the logo world! I sat with Alden, as it was rare that he took interest in any sort of book, and showed him the car adds in the yellow pages, as I knew that his interest in cars was peaking. "Ford, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Buick, Lexus, Toyota, Mercedes!," Alden could hardly stand it, he was so excited. As for me, I could barely contain my excitement of how brilliant my young, 2-year-old son was who could recognize the emblems and the spelling of the cars. After an hour of studying the cars, Alden started turning the pages, and yelled with excitement, "Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Chili's!" WOW! My 2-year-old could read! Of course, I picked up the phone and called my husband, then my parents to brag what a genius Alden was. I don't think a phonebook ever got so much use! Alden would literally spend hours looking through the phonebook - studying the pages. He would rattle off phone numbers, attorney names, letters, and jump up and down in sheer enthusiam, but Alden always returned his attention back to the cars, remembering exactly which page to turn to. We are not exactly sure why Alden chose cars as his "thing," but now, at the age of three, he can differentiate between makes and models of even the most obscure cars: Lotus, Lamborghini, Ferrari! Alden also likes to see the mail - "ComEd, NiCor, US Cellular," he recognizes them all! Alden's mind works different and we are now trying to tap into how to use his thought process into real life applications. We even made Alden an "Alden Emblem" so that he could recognize things that are his. Alden's life in emblems and logos makes sense to him. With his emblems, he finds safety and contentment in his world that is ever changing and language that he doesn't always understand. Emblems and logos are constant and that is what Alden can endure. We all have a safe place when stress overcomes us. We resort to what we know because we find comfort in what we understand. Alden has guided us outside of our comfort level, but through him, we find that the world of discovery charters the footsteps of what others may someday follow.

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