Living with a profoundly autistic person can be mystifying. This is especially true if—as is the case with my son on the autism spectrum—the person is not able to communicate easily with words.
Limited functional language means years spent observing my son’s patterns of interaction with us and the objects around him to support his daily needs. Because his way of navigating his environment is not like the “typical” population, we’ve learned a unique “language” of behavior mixed with limited speech to understand what makes him happy, why he’s upset, if something hurts, where he’d like to go for a hike.
It can feel like visiting a foreign land. Not having the firm ground of a common language or culture under our feet is disorienting, and makes visiting other places both fascinating and exhausting.
I imagine our son has felt that exhaustion and disorientation since he first tried functioning in a world geared for people whose brains are wired differently than his. It is a learning experience for him, for us, and for everyone dealing with neurodiversity issues. Our brains and sensory systems do not all work in the same way.
Not only do we understand our son’s world better by observing his patterns of behavior, but he also observes and creates patterns in his surroundings, usually not ones we’re familiar with. Books are not lined up side by side, but instead opened one inside the other, and lined in diagonals on shelves until the outermost book is just about to fall off, but maintains a delicate balance hovering on the edge. It is sometimes maddening but also intriguing.
We recently hiked to a natural sandstone formation in a forest that had uncanny, sci-fi vibe patterns formed in the stone. Even after reading the scientific explanation of how this unusual rock pattern occurs, it still felt like a rock from an alien planet. Those beautiful, enigmatic markings helped me appreciate the wonder of the unique forms of beauty nature offers, whether in sandstone or the human mind.
This week’s Hike Notes, Tafoni Trail and Sandstone Formation, leads readers on a moderate hike through mixed forest and down a short trail to an observation deck at the fascinating Tafoni sandstone formation.
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Hike Notes 151: Tafoni Trail and Sandstone Formation
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Sharing insights and hiking highlights (Hikes, Hike Search by Area) from the special needs caregiver front in San Francisco.