"Why did she do that?" he asked.
"She wanted to be sure you saw her and didn't run into her."
"But why did she make that noise and touch me?"
"Well," I said, "she is deaf, which means she can't hear and communicates with sign language. She tapped you to make sure you knew she was there so you didn't bounce into her."
He was quiet as he meticulously chewed each chicken nugget, his little Asperger's brain working through this new experience, fitting it into his world.
Half an hour later I was buckling his seatbelt when he said, "I'm really smart with science."
"Yes you are," I said.
"I bet when I grow up I can find a way to make it so she can hear again. She should be able to hear the world."
I was sitting on the floor of my client's bedroom with case notes spread out around me. Five years old, blind and diagnosed with Autism, he was in the other room listening to his mp3 player. Caught up in my paperwork, I didn't realize he was in the doorway until he let out a small, "Katrina?"
I looked up at him and saw tears rolling down his cheeks.
"What's the matter honey?" I abandoned all professional boundaries and pulled him into my lap in a hug, wiping away his tears. I strongly believe professional boundaries go out the window when a small child cries.
"It's really said," he said between sobs. "The people in the song. They have problems in their love."
I took his mp3 player from his small, chubby fist and turned it toward me. He was listening to Sheryl Crow.
When you read an article claiming that the Connecticut shooter had Aspergers please do not believe that this diagnosis made him a killer. Aspergers and Autism do not mean a person has no empathy. In fact, I strongly believe it is the exact opposite. I believe they have so much empathy that it is overwhelming and they don't know how to express it. Or they shut it down, stifle it, in order to function in the world the way we expect them to.