Writing Through Autistic Eyes: Paul nelson
From Through Fisher’s Eyes (Book 1)
I am Fisher Stephens. My age is 17, and I have autism. I do not talk, because it is very hard to make my mouth say the words that fly from my head. I can type, so I do that. I like to type because it helps me become free to let out the pictures in my head. I see many pictures all the time. Sometimes it is hard for me to slow them down. Dad gives me medicine. It helps. Sometimes the pictures fly in my head so fast that I have to shake my hands and make some grunting noises. People look at me when that happens. I take medicine to help me calm down too.
My dad has the name Paul. My mom is not living anymore. I am not sure how she stopped living this life, but she was sick for a very long time. Dad says she is fine now, and we will live together again someday. I miss mom. Before she got so sick, she would read to me. I liked that. When I was really little, she would make a soft place in bed with lots of blankets. We would watch my favorite movies and cuddle. We would eat lots of snacks and popcorn. Usually, I would fall asleep in bed, feeling safe with mom by my side. Every kid should know that feeling. Mom had a lot of love to give, but she wore out before she could give it all. I did not like to go in her room when she was very sick. Her room felt dark and cold to me. I am happy her sickness is all gone now, but I miss all the love she gave me.
People and Autism
I notice many things about people. I listen to the sounds their shoes make when they walk. I look at the color of their clothes. I don’t know why, but now that I’m 17, I like to look at pretty girls’ legs. One time, I went up to a very pretty girl at the store, and bent over to look closer at her pretty legs. Dad had to tell me not to do this. I do not stare anymore, but I really like girls’ legs.
I watch people’s faces as they talk on phones. Some people get very big eyes when they talk on the phone. Some people smile and laugh when they are on the phone. Some people yell into their phones. However, most people do not talk, or smile, or laugh when they are walking right next to somebody. This seems strange to me. Phones are nice, but I think people do not pay attention to each other very much.
Autism is part of me. I feel it inside me. Dad says it is part of what makes me special. Sometimes I do not feel special. Sometimes when we see people we know at the big store, they see us, and walk away from us in a hurry. It makes my dad sad…and me too. One time, at the big store, I bumped my head really hard. I was little, and it hurt a lot. I could not stop crying because the hurting made lots of bad pictures fly in my head, and many bad colors too. Dad tried to calm me down, but I started screaming and holding my ears. A lady said to my dad, very loud, that he should take me into the bathroom and “teach me a lesson” about how to behave. I do not really know why she said that, but it really seemed to hurt my dad. He looked at her with a mad face, but he had tears in his eyes. That is the only time I have seen my dad cry.
Another time at the store, I was upset, and shaking my hands a lot while I made noises. It was very loud in the store that day, and there were too many people. I was tired and did not feel good.
An old lady looked at my dad and said, “What is wrong with him.”
Dad said, “Absolutely nothing.”
We just walked away from her. I do not feel special when people look at me and say dark things. I DO feel special sometimes though. I feel very special when I get visits from my friend. He has the name Michael. He always comes to visit at night. I used to think I was sleeping and Michael was a night picture in my head. But now I know that is not true. Every time Michael comes to visit, there is a bright light outside the window of my room. He never uses the door. Michael comes in right through the wall.
Michael looks different from most people. His skin is very smooth and his eyes are big black circles. His color is light blue. Michael is very kind and makes me feel calm and happy. My hands do not shake when he is here. Most of all, I like that Michael can talk to me in my head. He does not need his lips. He thinks things and they go into my head. I hear them, but his mouth does not move. Even better than that, I can say something in my head and he hears it. Many times we have talked this way most of the night. Like my dad, Michael tells me I am very special. He says I am important for the future and he needs to teach me many things. I am not sure why this is, but I like it. I feel safe and warm with Michael. He seems to know me very well. When we talk, the pictures in my head are slow and happy. I have noticed that since Michael has been coming to visit me, I am better at using words. I can think of more words, and it is easier to type them. I still cannot talk with my lips. I wish I could.
From Dark Spectrum (book 2)
For Fisher Stevens, life had changed over the past seven years, but in a natural and kind way. He was out of high school, and living in the Susquehanna Assisted Living Community in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania. It was just about ten minutes from his dad’s house, and Fisher still got to see his father regularly. Fisher was working in a small café as a part-time dishwasher, and he also worked at the local university entering data on the computer system. His father wanted him to be as independent as possible. It was a hard move for both Fisher and his dad, but it was working out quite well. Fisher enjoyed the activities at the assisted living home, and he was very happy that his roommate was his high school friend, Sam. When Fisher was having a rough day with his autism, Sam knew how to calm him down with a snack and a favorite movie. Sam knew to turn out the lights. Darkness always calmed Fisher. He also knew that Fisher needed to pace in order to “work things out.”
Similarly, Fisher was extremely perceptive about Sam’s needs. When Sam would have a fit of obsessive compulsion about the fringe on the carpet not being neat, Fisher would help him straighten it. When Sam had a seizure, Fisher would help Ron, their living assistant, keep Sam from getting near a window or anything else that might be dangerous. It was a fine living arrangement. Fisher did still go to stay with his dad a couple of times a month. The new living arrangement had probably been hardest for Fisher’s dad, but he knew it was for the best. He had always known it would be difficult when his son left, but he also knew he would not be around forever for Fisher. It was best to begin the transition now.
Susquehanna Assisted Living was located in a beautiful old mansion on Water Street in Lock Haven. The mansion had been built in the mid-nineteenth century by Captain Randall Brungard. The Captain had retired from the Navy, and ventured into the booming central Pennsylvania lumber business. He had his home custom-built with a cupola on the roof, so he could watch his lumber floating down the river to the city. Captain Brungard’s wife was named Cynthia. She was elegantly beautiful, with strawberry blonde hair, and delicate features. She had porcelain white skin, and couldn’t stand the hot sun for even five minutes. Thus, she was usually found indoors, playing her harp for hours at a time. The couple had been blessed with a young daughter named Emily. However, the joy of starting a family was short-lived. Cynthia died just after giving birth. The Captain was so devastated, he was rarely able to bring himself to do anything except spend a bit of time watching Emily ride her tricycle around the second story of the mansion. He would manage a soft, weak smile as he watched his daughter. However, her delicate facial features reminded him of his beloved Cynthia, so he found himself retiring to the third floor to pace, and watch his lumber. He paced, day after day, hour after hour.
Disaster struck the household again when Emily was just six-years-old. She contracted pneumonia and died in just a few days-time. The Captain lived another miserable year, and passed away in his beloved cupola, while watching the river. The doctor said it was a heart attack, but most people believed the man simply died of misery, and longing for his beautiful wife and daughter.
This sad story had not ended with the death of the Captain however. After the Captain had passed, people living in Brungard mansion told the same ghostly stories over and over. At night, nobody in the house could sleep. The Captain’s footsteps were still heard on the third floor every night. Also, a small tricycle could be heard on the second floor, bumping into doors and railings. This continued, undisturbed, through the years, and into the present. For a time, the mansion was rented out to college students from the local university. The huge roof became a “party central” on warm evenings. Students were relatively unaware of the ghostly noises due to the almost constant noise produced in the house. However, one extremely loud and annoying young man was quite surprised one evening while relieving himself in the old bathroom. A wet washcloth flew out of the bath tub and into his face. Emily had taken quite enough of the young upstart’s rowdiness, and had given him a piece of her mind. It worked. The brute ran screaming from the house without even stopping to “zip up.”
Fisher and Sam regularly heard the noises of Brungard Mansion. In fact, they both had become quite comfortable with their ghostly housemates. Sam would often politely ask them to keep quiet after 8:00 p.m. Interestingly enough, the ghosts would happily comply. They seemed to have no anger, or desire to scare anyone, as long as the tenants were polite and respectful to them, and to their house. The two spirits kept to themselves, but continued to carry on as they had in life…the Captain pacing, and keeping watch over the mighty river, and Emily, happily riding her trike. There were never reports of Cynthia’s ghost. Apparently, she was happily at rest, or perhaps residing in a cool, shaded place somewhere. Fisher, always extra perceptive, could actually see Emily, the little girl. He would smile and wave to her. Standing by her trike in a lovely flowered dress, she would wave back and blow him a kiss. Fisher liked that.