Anne Lamott said “They struggled like beautiful ungainly marine mammals.” My Bryan is one of the three guys with Autism that I cared for. We would frequent local public libraries and He would spend all day looking at his books on Music, Manatees, and Loony Tunes. He eventually taught himself bits of the Dewey decimal system so like a kid with a trail of breadcrumbs we could find our way back to his favorite reading sections no matter what library we ended up at in 75 mile range. Ohio’s a great state for Libraries, and there’s not a finer place to interact “one on one”, with a Kid or Adult that needs focus to concentrate.
OK, you got me. I’m just prejudiced. It’s just that our local libraries are the best and the staffs of Ohio Libraries are renown as phenomenal. Anyway I eventually took all my guys there and two out of the three really liked it and we became full time users (read addicts). At least two or three times a week we would frequent different local public libraries, and do our 10 or 20 books to exchange. All kinds big picture books , tiny kids books, encyclopedias , How to’s and a lot of Engineering Books…he is fascinated with Bridges and never saw one he didn’t fall in love with. And then on to the next treasure chest. (library). I always made it a point to introduce Bryan to the Ladies or Gents at the desk on a first name basis. That way they knew who he was, who I was and that we were together. All on a very kind gracious and first name basis, They were wonderful with him. No book was to hard to find and any quick assistance (restrooms) was graciously given.
Then the exchanges started to occur. Once we became regulars he would love at first greeting them by name and then finally upon checkout trying to share with them all the treasures he had found. It’s funny but I just realized that while I’ve been a lifelong lover and user of libraries I found one of my very own greatest treasures in seeing this young man develop in a library with the courage and support of a army of librarians in Port Clinton, Huron, Sandusky, Fremont, Clyde, Castailia, Lucky and Pemberville. In each library everyone taking time to help make the miracle of Bryan progress. Giving him the time and attention to communicate. People, particularly Librarians, sometimes you just can’t beat them, they’re amazing. Bryan finally helped me remember some parts of the Dewey decimal system. Only the ones he liked , his Manatees, Music (Jazz),Loony Tunes, Merrie Melodies and Ships. My Bryan was fascinated (still is) with Manatees, Dugongs any form of Sea Cows. He just loves them. In watching Bryan’s fascination with Manatees…, I sometimes think Bryan recognized a very dear part of himself, something akin to that great gentle creature, if only for a moment.. It’s as if he had been born in the right skin , the right environment, he would be as graceful and gracious as these great creatures he recognized that they are family.In some of way, shape or form they were the same as him only their skins had been changed. But Bryan doesn’t set to much store by peoples appearance I guess neither would a Manatee. Bryan and Manatees , my gentle giants. Both so much more than we could ever hope to understand.