Peter and Bingo
Peter has autistic spectrum disorder. There are three conditions usually associated with autistic spectrum disorder: autism, Asperger syndrome and pervasive developmental disorder. The three conditions translate into communicative issues, social deficits, repetitive behaviors and interests, and sometimes, cognitive delays. Peter didn’t start communicating in whole sentences until he was almost 5 years old. Even then, his sentences were brief – he had memorized them from television scripts.
Autism and Bingo
Peter’s autism was chronicled by a family member. She wrote about him and autism regularly in opinion pieces. He started to take an interest in the column, she noticed, so she asked him what she should write about. Peter suggested she write about Bingo. He had won again, and she congratulated him. Bingo is Peter’s favorite game to play in the summer. It means the world to him. She asked Peter how she should write the column in order to help children like him. Before she saw how much he liked it, she was skeptical.
Only grandmas would read about Bingo, she thought. But, she could see how important it was to him. They had a conversation sprinkled with information on Bingo. Peter wanted to call his grandma and talk about Bingo. He switched the column’s topic to things that frighten him. Peter is scared of noises. He cowers from storms and fireworks because they make his ears hurt. The pain frightens him.
Great Bingo Prizes
The Bingo win, complete with two Hawaiian leis, was a huge accomplishment in Peter’s eyes, but to his relative, it was more. Peter was consistent in thinking about the column, and how others would benefit from his experience with Bingo, and those fears of the storms and fireworks. Peter was proud enough of himself because he won that day, and he wanted to publicly share it.
The columnist remembered a time when Peter wasn’t able to communicate. She remembered abrupt conversations with him that were two sentences at the most. The conversation about Bingo and fears was a milestone, and she wishes she would have counted the exchanges she had with Peter. There wasn’t time for that because, in addition to winning Bingo, Peter had learned a new dance. His teacher suggested he show the columnist the dance. He swayed his hips and grinned.
The columnist wrote, “Bingo!”