Meggie Bassil was my Psychology 202 instructor at AUB two years ago. I owe my deep fascination in neuroscience first and foremost to her, for she helped me discover psychology for what it truly was: a science deeply rooted in Biology. Meggie, apart from teaching at AUB, works closely with children with Autism. Much to my, and many other people’s delight, Meggie has begun blogging, and here’s her latest entry, published with her permission.
Just yesterday, i had the privilege of meeting the new love of my life. Being the romantic that i am, you would probably assume that i am someone who believes in love at first sight, though i certainly am not. But when it comes to little boys with beautiful smiles and sparkling eyes, it just could happen. And i can honestly attest that it has happened to me.. twice.
An ex-student of mine called me earlier this week describing the case of his cousin’s three-year old son. From what he remembered from my class, he was worried that this little boy had autism, and was hoping that i could visit and give my impressions. We quickly set a date, keeping in mind that i had my hands full between jobs, and no intention to add a new child to my life. I’d go, consult and guide the parents, then head back home. At least that was the plan anyway.
Upon arriving, i am greeted by a warm loving family. Mom is concerned, teta and jeddo are worried, and big sister wants to help. I listen to their stories, their observations and remarks, and feel touched by how lovingly yet painfully they describe this child’s transformation from a verbal sociable boy who would babble all sorts of words to a non-verbal isolated boy whom they feel has slipped far from reach.
Where is this little boy? I ask. I want to meet him.
And there I see him, glued closely to the television set flapping his hands and arms as arabic music blasted away. A little boy with golden blond hair and fluffy rosy cheeks in spiderman slippers. My heart skips a beat. Literally. He bounces from one foot to the other, swaying to the music. I call out his name, he seems completely oblivious to my voice. I call again, …nothing. His eyes glued to the television. I am not even there. To be honest, i have grown accustomed to situations like these, because of my experience with autistic children. I have been working with a child with autism for over 4 years (who just happens to be my first love-at-first-sight), and have struggled with many moments and challenges which i have learned to overcome and understand. And yet.. there i am, after all these years, i find myself standing there, silently wondering if he heard me but doesn’t like me already. Don’t take it personally meg, i remind myself.
Tayyeb any special interests? I ask mom.
Mmm, well yes, she says timidly, Stones… He is fascinated by stones…
So there i am, sitting on the carpet right next to this special little boy, with a handful of stones in my lap. I start tapping the stones together.
Tap tap I can make music with my stones!
And just like that, he turns away from the screen and reaches out for my small treasures. I place a large stone in his small soft hand, and watch him hold it tight between his fingers, then sliding it between his palms, then caressing it slowly as if studying its smooth surface. His eyes full of amazement, fascination, appreciation.
I spend the next five minutes watching this little boy and his stone. What does he see that i don’t?
I then return to talking with mom, discussing the way to go from here, action plans and interventions, where.. all of a sudden, out of nowhere, a small hand finds its way into mine and squeezes.
And that’s WHEN it happened.
The smile of a little blond-haired boy who could melt a thousand icebergs.
He pulls me off my chair and guides me through the house, from room to room, as if showing me around. Then back to the sitting area where mom and grandparents are waiting for us.
And that’s HOW it happened.
That’s how my new love, with the fascination for stones, squeezed himself into my life, and my schedule for two hours a week.
Some people are hard to please, hard to impress. And yet others, find the little things in life fascinating. Those people can turn nothing into everything. This little boy, with the spiderman slippers, did just that. And because of him, I will never look at stones the same way…
Follow Meggie here