Archive for January, 2011

The Journey

The following is based on a true story.

It’s three in the afternoon on a Saturday. I’m in the family room watching a movie, just getting that wonderful fuzzy feeling of drifting off to a nap, when I hear a muffled bang coming from upstairs. It’s just me and Clay at home, so no chance I can continue my entrenchment on the sofa listening for the footsteps that indicate my wife will take care of this. I need to investigate.

Up I stand with a groan, take the two steps into the kitchen and promptly slam my head on the cabinet door that Clay has left open. We give him free access to a cabinet above the oven, which we stock mostly with a variety of chips. He never closes the door. After bouncing my head off it dozens of times, you’d think I would be looking out for it. You would think wrong. It is natural to look down at the steps into the kitchen as you climb them, and since the cabinet door is just a foot inside the kitchen and at eye level, well, wham-bam. This doesn’t improve my already crabby mood. Read the rest of this entry »


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Quiet House

Two brothers standing next to each otherMy wife started it.

Attempting to get some conversation going with Clay on the keyboard he uses to communicate, she typed: “The house is quiet without your brother here.”

We had dropped Clay’s older brother back at college that afternoon after a five-week winter break.

“So true,” Clay typed back. “We are sad that he is back at school. Sorry that he is not here.”

It seemed like it would end there, but it didn’t. Read the rest of this entry »

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Just A Suggestion

Most weekday mornings, getting Clay out of bed in time to meet his 7 a.m. bus is like extracting your leg from a knee-deep mud puddle. It has to be done carefully, in stages and with much patience, or you’ll have a wet leg, a lost shoe and a kid who is still asleep.

My wife is the early riser (I do my best worrying late at night), so she faces the daily routine much more often, and it is not pretty. I’ll spare you the details, but it takes place in phases that begin with removing his comforter and enticing him to the sofa downstairs for a few more minutes rest to forcing his limp, dead-weight body into some clothes while he lulls in a state of stupefied, semi-consciousness. Much like someone watching Jersey Shore.

So, here’s the question. Why, on a day when we get the dead of night call that school is closed for snow, is Clay up and raring to go, unprompted, at  6 a.m.? Read the rest of this entry »

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Going Social

Image of article in newspaper

Friday morning, I showed Clay the article I wrote about him in the Philadelphia Inquirer, but, in all honesty, he was more interested in why his waffles weren’t out of the toaster oven, yet. Knowing that he is always listening and absorbing, though, we kept him updated throughout the weekend on the activity and comments.

The response to the article was overwhelming.

For a good portion of the weekend, the article was the second most shared item on the Inquirer’s Web site (and the most read in the opinion section). More than 300 people recommended it on Facebook. Traffic to this blog hit more than 10 times the typical number, and continued much heavier than normal throughout the weekend.

The article was touted on Twitter and even appeared in the Associated Press newsfeed. The number of Clay’s fans on Facebook more than doubled. And, most important, comments flooded in to the blog, the Inquirer, the Life with Clay Facebook page and via email. There was a wonderful, warm outpouring from parents, teachers, family, friends and even people who hadn’t before understood autism. Read the rest of this entry »

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So Popular

When I learned that a commentary I wrote about Clay, and how funny he is, was going to appear in the Philadelphia Inquirer, I realized there was something important I had neglected to do.

I have been chronicling a lot of intimate details of Clay’s life over the past 10 months. What he had to say the first time he typed. His message to his Mom on Mother’s Day. His first school dance. His 15th birthday. The loss of our dog. His first horseback ride. The first story he ever wrote. The amazing day when he appeared on a panel at Arcadia University.

I’ve written exactly 50 posts. Some made fun of his quirky behaviors like compulsively turning on lights or stripping our Christmas tree of its decorations. Others shared his anxiety over school or how much his camp counselors enjoyed their time with him.

Here’s what I didn’t do. In all that time, I never asked my son what he thought about having his life shared so publicly. Read the rest of this entry »

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Ready or Not

Sunday night, as we prepared for Clay to head back to school, my wife asked for the little guy’s thoughts on his Christmas vacation.

“So awesome,” he typed, standing in the kitchen.

“What was your favorite part?”

“We were at home.” (We visited my wife’s family Christmas eve and ran a few errands here and there, but, mostly, Clay hung out in the house, typing “stay here” when we asked what he wanted to do. He enjoyed his downtime.)

My wife followed him up to his room with a question about the coming year.

“What would you like to accomplish in the new year?” Read the rest of this entry »

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