Monday, October 3, 2011

A Surprising Weekend

It had all the makings of being a difficult weekend.

We were visiting my dad. Not a particularly easygoing man to begin with, he has gotten crankier with age. Set in his ways, he doesn’t want to hear about how he needs to adapt now that he has gotten older.

His eyesight has gotten bad, he has hearing difficulties, and his short-term memory issues are severe. Among other things, those issues make it difficult to communicate with him.

Now throw a boy with autism into the mix.

Kai often doesn’t respond to questions or greetings, and sometimes speaks softly when he does. So, communication with him is a challenge.

He also can be very active. My dad has things scattered throughout his house. It’s a mess, really. But he doesn’t want anyone messing with his mess. And I pictured Kai going through my dad’s stuff, and not listening to us telling him to stop.

Another worry is that my dad lives in the middle of nowhere. He doesn’t have a computer. My son has been hooked on the internet lately. How would he be able to go a weekend without it? What would he do the whole time?

And yet, somehow, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be.

In fact, it was pretty darn good.

One feature of living in the country is that there is a lot of room to run around. My dad’s place has some wooded area and open areas, and Kai enjoyed walking around the whole place.

Perhaps Kai’s favorite places to walk to were the various apple trees that my dad has. They were all loaded with fruit. My son loves eating apples and picking apples. It was a good match.

Kai also loves numbers, of course. And my dad has an electronic dartboard in the basement. The numbers on the board are the attraction. We showed Kai how to throw the darts and he was hooked. He kept returning to the dartboard after other activities. He is really too small to throw it well, but he improved a lot as we played.

But aside from the activities that we enjoyed, what made the trip most worthwhile is that my dad made the effort to try to interact with Kai. And Kai responded.

It wasn’t always easy. We had to prompt Kai a lot, and my dad frequently didn’t understand what Kai said so we had to repeat it for him, but they each made the effort and communicated. It was great to see them get to know each other better.

Before we went, Kai told one of his therapists that Ojiichan is the oldest person that he knows. Now, he knows a few more things about him.

And that made for a good weekend.


  1. That had all the hallmarks of being a great weekend. Both, your Father, and Kai, learned more about each other and made some lasting memories.

    Family is always good to see.

  2. Yes, it was so nice to see them getting to know each other better. We really treasure the times that Kai spends with family.


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