neurotypical re-port


true story. eye i was there to witness it.

i'm sitting by the edge of a pond that runs along a tiny urban park trail, trying to remember things, trying to think anew. a small group of autistic children arrives in my vicinity, shepherded by two teachers, here for a learning experience in one of the few snatches of protected wetland nestled within the heart of the city. they mill about, looking, touching, chattering, listening. the two teachers skillfully keep the young children safe from falling into the water while managing to weave every spoken opening into an opportunity for engagement and discussion.

one of the children begins pointing excitedly towards the sky, somewhere behind me. the teacher cannot follow the gesture and moves over to where the child is standing, wanting to see what seems to be apparent only from a particular point of view. and then the young autistic child shows the neurotypical the wave within the clouds — the obvious wave. surprised by this discovery, the teacher offers praise.

"it's a tidal wave," the young child continues, perceiving not only a form within the wisps of water vapour but its intensity. the moment moves on.

"where are the animals?" another child wonders aloud at rhythmic intervals. the small birds flitting about — red-winged blackbird here, swallow there — don't seem to be of much animal interest, nor do the insects, nor for that matter us humans. but the animals of interest are most certainly absent this morning, and i feel disappointed on their behalf.

by this time the tidal wave has dissipated into a fading whiteness across the sky.

about ten minutes later a pair of ducks — mallard and drake — come gliding out of the wooded area to alight on the surface of the pond. ripples form. they swim around a bit before coming to a tentative rest some distance apart, one leg-deep in water at the edge of a tiny island, the other staying dry on a wooden stump that just protrudes the surface in the middle of the pond. they spend time cleaning themselves, ruffling at feathers, preening, and occasionally glancing in each other's direction.

the children were long gone by this point, but they would have loved you two.

though perhaps not for long. there were too many other things that would have captivated their attention on this day, too many other curiosities to consider. you would have only been a fleeting memory, tucked away in the folds of the body — some future potential that might allow one to perceive the intensity of a wave where nobody else is looking.


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