I Live with Dory" about the shortcomings of Finbar's short term memory and the ensuing insanity it drives me to. Back then, I was living the life of Marlin from Finding Nemo, on his epic voyage with Dory who could remember nothing from minute to minute. And I would tell myself to just keep swimming. Over the last year, Finbar's short term memory lapses receded quite a bit, no doubt because of the Brain Integration Therapy he has been receiving. Nevertheless, with all this improvement, I recently had a brief "Dory" experience with him and it uncovered a long time nagging question of mine. Why do children with autism have such poor short term memories? In that Dory post, I also alluded to the fact that research has shown that there may be a link between Autism and Alzheimers - scary thought I know, to look at your 6 yr old as a mini-Alzheimer's patient. But that is how it feels sometimes.
Case in point (after a BBQ at our home with friends last night):
F: (excitedly) "Hey Mom, Hey Mom?"
Me: "Yes Finney?"
F: "Um, can we invite THAT girl over for a playdate tomorrow?"
Me: "WHAT girl Finney?
I glance at Reese tromping down the steps from the upper patio in our yard where we had been eating, on her way out to go home, figuring he is referring to her. Knowing that he has been playing with this girl all evening and the evening before, and therfore should know her name, I endeavor as always to drive home a point.
Me: (somewhat annoyingly) "You mean the girl in the yellow shirt?" Still not giving it away.
F: "Yes, yes, THAT girl! Can we have HER over for a playdate? Can we? I want her to be my friend."
Me: "You mean REESE?", I say in a kind of "duh" reply, trying to make him realise that knowing people's names, particularly people that you have been hanging out with for four hours, is EXPECTED. I instantaneously imagine him at a job interview when he is 25 having forgotten which job he is applying for and for what company, brush that nightmare thought aside, and momentarily take note that he chronically does not seem to care about learning a person's name. Or, is it rather that his memory does not allow him to remember? Ah, the million dollar question. Many people have the oft bad habit of "being horrible with names" (yours truly included). Which is it? Blatant social carelessness on his part? Or some brain malfunction? Or, as many have dubbed autism to be - Alzheimers for kids? I may never know, so I move on to the positive - OMG he is asking for a playdate with a new friend! OMG, OMG, OMG.
Me: "Well, yes! Why don't you go ask her if she'd like to come over sometime or ask her mom if it's OK?" (and please don't blow it)
F: "But what if she doesn't want to be my friend?"
I lose track of him for a few minutes and then see him with Reese, who hasn't left yet.
Me: "Hey Finbar, didn't you want to ask Reese something? Hey Reese, Finbar wanted to..."
F: "I ALREADY DID mom and I asked her if she would be my friend (ooooh awkward) and she said yes and that she wanted to come over for a playdate..."
Me: (cutting him off) "Great! Reese, do you want to..."
Reese's mom: "Hey Finbar, do you think that you would like to come over to OUR house one day to play?"
Me: (OMG, he is being invited by another mom for a playdate - A first!)
Finbar: (doublechecking) "Reese, you are my friend now, right?"
Reese: (shrugs her shoulders without glancing back at him) "Uh, yeah, I guess so." (She runs off)
This Dory thing is socially awkward but who cares it is working out! We are on our way to P. Sherman 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney :)