Everyday Lives of Extraordinary People 4

Abby, F12, Judy and Jane J at Autreat. Picture: Lindsay

Where's a good place to find four autistic people? Autreat, a conference organised by and for autistic people and their families and friends each August near Syracuse, New York, is one. Above, Abby, F12, Judy and Jane pose for the camera.

Jane, F12 and Lindsay at the Illinois Train Museum, September 1998. Picture: David Bromley

Another good place to find autistic people is at a train museum. There are very few of us who do not have an interest in something to do with trains. Here, Jane J, F12 and Lindsay are looking forward to spending several hours at the Illinois Train Museum, the largest in the US and perhaps the world.

Becca is Abby's sister and Judy's neice. She's developed into a very competent gymnast.

While older sister Abby and Aunt Judy are having fun at Autreat, non-autistic Rebecca is becoming a very competent gymnast.

Matthew Argall is showing off his banknote designs, June 2000. Picture: Lindsay

We've met Matthew Argall on a previous page. Lindsay first encountered him at his "autistic kindergarten", Irabina Early Intervention Program, now Irabina Autism Services. Even in his first year of primary school, Matthew could do in five minutes what it took the rest of the class half an hour to accomplish. He was chronically bored and already dimly perceiving the outlines of the questions that autistic and gifted children start to grapple with anytime from around the age of eight: why am I different, how will I cope with it and what will my life be like? At the time he took this picture, Matthew's interests were in bridges and currency. In the picture, he displays his designs of banknotes, many of which incorporate pictures of bridges.

Simon in May 2000 wearing a jumper as pants. Picture: Elgin Marko
Simon is wearing sunglasses as proof gainst the camera's flash. Picture: Elgin Marko

Left: Simon thinks it's only natural to wear a jumper as pants. Right: He's developed a clever way of coping with a camera's flash. Simon's current ambition is to be a ballet dancer.

Simon's mother Elgin says: " When I was expecting Joseph, I was afraid he'd be like me. When he came, the differences didn't matter very much (although they matter more as he gets older). Then when Simon came, I was delighted when he really did turn out like me :-) The fact that we're both autistic is good for both of us. I'd have to feel very secure to risk having more kids because raising more than two, autistic or otherwise, is something I'd rather not have to do by myself; but I'm not afraid of having autistic children. There are ways to get around the differences, and one becomes stronger than many NTs in the process of learning. I think the main advantage in being NT is that one has more company :-)" (Oh, and since she wrote that, Elgin has gone on to have Carl, who seems to be autistic too. May we multiply and prosper!!)
Here's a pic of Elgin at 18 with her brother Malte, then aged 10.

Elgin at age 18 standing behind her 10yo brother, Malte.

Elgin and her children in October, 2005.

This picture's too good to either omit or reduce in size. Elgin is at the right, her son Joseph on the left with Simon and Carl in the middle. A beautiful day for auties to take to the water in October, 2005.


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