Charlie, as I have written before, is not drawn to computers. When he was younger, mechanical devices (automatic garage door openers in particular and garage doors in general) were his fascination and I had to keep limiting the number of times he could push the button (“just two more than we’re done!”) for fear that the mechanism would break. In our old house, there was a computer set at just the right spot at the bottom of the stairs and he liked to sit at the top and watch his Goodnight Moon DVD or gaze at his favorite photos (all involving carnival rides, the beach, and “favorite people”—my parents, former therapists and teachers). Use of the computer mouse still eludes Charlie: While he seems very able to manipulate each finger to play the notes on the piano (and he has been working on some eight or nine different songs now), he has yet to learn how to hold all of his fingers in concert to grip, move, point and click the mouse.
And so, while I do think, as Simon Baron-Cohen is quoted in the January 21st Independent Online that “it has never been a better time to have autism,” it is not because our increasingly digital-techonologically driven society is a better palce for Charlie to function in. To quote Baron-Cohen again, “Many children with autism develop an intuitive understanding of computers in the same way that other children develop an intuitive understanding of people”—Charlie seems especially drawn to music and sensory and physical experiences, from piano playing to bike riding.
But he does seem to like my cell phone and this is a picture of the blanket on my bed that he took tonight.
Now, I know this is not exactly the work of Weegee. I am quite happy to say that this is less a conscious attempt on Charlie’s part to chronicle his visual experience as it is the chance pressing of fingers on the keys of my phone. He certainly sees me using the phone a lot, for one of my numerous throughout-the-day calls to Jim (Charlie often reaches for the phone then: “Daddy tawk phone! I want”) or to take a number of the photos that I post here every day (and which he, as you can see, is more often than not the subject of).
I still have to wonder what tiny window this shot, however unintentional or not, gives me of a Charlie’s eye view of the world. Charlie often likes to hunker down on his knees with some object—squishy balls, parts of a puzzle, fluff)—in his hands and carefully regard it. Something about the world scaled down so small—as in those sugar eggs that contain a complete Easter landscape, and that you look at through a slender hole—catches his eyes. As a baby, Charlie had a strong pincer grasp and picked up the smallest bits of food from his high chair’s tray. It was the big movements—rolling over, crawling, walking—that he struggled to get his body to do.
When it came time during piano practice to do the left-hand exercises, I stood back and watched as Charlie raised his hand and his pinky and ring finger, long like the summer grass, struck C, D, C, C, D, D, C, D.
So precise, so perfect.