Saturday, February 12, 2011

Autism’s Playlist

Shortly after David was diagnosed my niece Katie, barely fifteen at the time, gave me one of the most thoughtful gifts that I have ever received. She was upgrading her iPod and, since I was probably the only person on earth who did not yet own one, she decided to give her old iPod to me.

Now, this gift would have been wonderful by itself, but knowing that I did not have either the time or the inclination to load it with music, she spent hours putting songs on it that she thought I would enjoy--even loading a few pictures of the boys, as well. Aside from the sometimes abrupt transitions, such as the leap from the Black Eyed Peas to Bach, she did a decent job of picking music that spans the generations.

But, if I had been choosing, what songs would have told the story? Not to make fun of what was a very trying time, but borrowing a few song titles from each of our iPods (Andrew's included) here are the months following David's diagnosis in a song (or ten).

At the time we received the diagnosis, we were certainly "Dazed and Confused" (Led Zeppelin). I tried to hold it together because "Big Girls Don't Cry" (Fergie), but I lost that battle. Of course, we would get David whatever help he needed, but I still believed that "Love Will Save the Day" (Des'ree) because "All You Need Is Love" (The Beatles).

Like so many autism Moms, I took the role of "The Warrior" (Scandal, featuring Patty Smyth) because, after all "I Am Woman" (Helen Reddy) and I was confident that we would "Whip It" (Devo). Many couples will tell you that men and women react very differently to this type of diagnosis, and while I could think of nothing but autism, for a time my husband shut it out of his mind, becoming "Comfortably Numb" (Pink Floyd).

I would like to think that Michael marveled at my handling of the situation, thinking "Isn't She Lovely" (Stevie Wonder), but if we are being perfectly honest he was probably thinking "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" (The Temptations), offering "Have a Drink on Me" (AC/DC), still saddened to realize that he "(Can't Get No) Satisfaction" (Rolling Stones).

Well, you can only be "Under Pressure" (Queen) for so long before you feel like you are "Looking at the World from the Bottom of a Well" (Mike Doughty) making it "Harder to Breathe" (Maroon 5), but Michael encouraged me to "Keep Holding On" (Avril Lavigne) because we will "Beat It" (Michael Jackson). He gently reminded me to be "Thankful" (Kelly Clarkson) because "He's My Son" (Mark Schultz).

In retrospect, of course we were going to do everything we could for David, but we could have also tried to "Roll with the Changes" (REO Speedwagon). And David's advice to us probably would have been "Don't Worry, Be Happy" (Bobby McFerrin) and I am now ready to take that advice—well half of it, at least. These most certainly are "Better Days" (Goo Goo Dolls). And my message to David, what I can honestly tell him each and every day "I Love You Just the Way You Are" (Billy Joel).


  1. Nothing in the world is as powerful as music!! Love it!

  2. Wow, this is great! Awesome post :)

  3. Wow, what a creative way to help explain the tremendous journey all of you have gone through. It it also appropriate because I know how much David loves listening to music, so I know that he would much rather prefer having his life told through song. What a wonderful post :)

  4. Very clever! I'm afraid if I drew up a playlist for myself it would just be "Where is my Mind?" (Pixies) and "Crazy" (Patsy Cline) :D

  5. Wow. You know music! I could never have pulled together such a post, and even with the help of Google...what I do know is, from Anticipation (Carly Simon), "these are the good old days" for better or worse. xoxo