Such an intimate post. Reflecting on how a child with autism understands the emotions involved in the loss of a beloved cat.
When our beloved seventeen-year-old cat was dying, Tyoma, our autistic son, reacted thus:
“Oh. So, then we’ll get a new kitty.”
No emotional depth. No concern. No sadness.
This did not fool us.
Kitty Pearl filled our son’s daily imaginings. Wobbly scratching posts and sinister-looking grooming contraptions were built in her honor. He wrote her sentimental “I-love-you-kitty” letters and taped kitty-centric schedules near her water bowl. Homemade Kitty Forts stretched across rooms and cluttered staircases.
Then there were lists. Page after page of numbered instructions pertaining to the cat:
- Pet kitty gently.
- Add ice cubes to fresh water.
- Brush with the fur.
- No pestering.
Tyoma needed to organize his interactions with Pearl, not just to remind him of his duties but also to cope with the delicious and abhorrent impulse to pull her tail.
Pearl’s declining state preoccupied Tyoma later that evening. He spread inky equationed papers on the bed…
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