Mind-Reading Through Pictures
My son on the autism spectrum can recite hours of movie dialogue, but ask him what he did at school today… blank.
“How do you feel?” “Happy!” he says in auto-response mode, even if he’s miserable.
His inability to speak is countered by his uncanny ability to sort through thousands of archived photos in less than a blink of an eye.
Scrolling through the photos he leaves on the computer screen each night is a priceless window into his thoughts.
He sometimes indulges in days-long walks down a photographic memory lane. “Oh, my,” I sigh, viewing his selected images of people, places and times long gone.
This photo of me and my son has appeared as the last image in his photo searches every night for several weeks now. I don’t know why.
A few months into our grief at the loss of our beloved “autism whisperer,” the picture was taken by our new autism helper, who persistently kept our feet moving on new trails throughout that difficult time.
Now well over five years past, I remember being shocked when this image popped up in that day’s hiking photos. I’d been convinced that I’d never really smile again.
Our cold rainy hike that day was above Pedro Point, just north of Devil’s Slide. Construction and a new tunnel opening soon thereafter meant that the trailhead was no longer easily accessible.
For years, I wanted to go back, but wasn’t sure how to access the trail.
Knowing my son was looking at this photo every night for weeks, I was determined to take him back.
On a recent, stunning blue sky day, we found our way. The trails had been reworked. The adventure of getting here with my two sons was a highlight of my year.
I showed my autistic son photos of our new hike adventure above Pedro Point. Then I showed him this old rainy day photo of him and me.
No sign that he related the new hike to the old photo. No words about the old picture. Nothing expressed about our glorious hike with his big brother.
That night and every day since, he still ends his photo views with this picture.
I don’t know why. He may never be able to tell me.
But Pedro Point Headlands is definitely on my favorites list.
This week’s Hike Notes introduce Pedro Point South Ridge Trail, a sometimes steep trail in the Pedro Point Headlands with breathtaking views. This new-yet-old favorite also features a lower trail to be introduced in a future post.
Please feel free to share. If you’re not able to take one of these Northern California hikes, hopefully you can enjoy the photos!
The list of hikes is getting long! Please check the Quick View Hike List or scroll down the main Hikes page to see the current list of hike notes.
New this week:
Hike Notes 33: Pedro Point South Ridge Trail
Sharing insights and hiking highlights (Hikes, Hike Search by Area) from the special needs caregiver front in San Francisco.