Thursday, April 9, 2009

The fifth oak tree

I was 14 years old, and I was offered a job to clean stalls and ride horses. I remember my first day like it was yesterday, I was wearing a red and white scrunchy, blue jean long sleeved shirt with blue jeans, and red cowboy boots. I remember seeing Evan sitting under an oak tree breaking twigs, I walked over to him. I remember this moment vividly, I have replayed it in my head, over and over through the years.
"Whatcha doing?" I popped off.
He stared at me, sighed and kept breaking the twigs.
"So, you're uh, breaking twigs-huh? Why? Is it fun or something?" I asked.
He just huffed.
"So, why don't you talk?" I said in a smarmy teenage sorta way.
He didn't even look up this time.
I started kicking the dirt, looking around to fill the awkward silence. "My name is Kristin, what's yours?"
"I understand your name is Evan? Seriously, why don't you talk?"
"I am going to start working here, and I just wanted to say hello. Really, why don't you talk?"
He looked up at me, and smiled.

~~A mere 7 years later~~
"Evan, come outside and tell me where you want me to hang up your bird feeders?" I screamed from downstairs.
"ummm" he says "the fifth oak tree, Kristin"
I looked around their log cabin at the giant 5 oak trees that encases the house. "Which one is that?"
"You know, the one where we first met"
* * * *
Evan was 12 years old when he was first diagnosed with Autism. He was non-verbal and after 12 years without an established communication system he had developed many aggressive behaviors.
But he was blessed with a mom that demanded more, a dad never gave up. They went from doctor to doctor, one actually told them that, "buffalo wings and herbal tea would cure him."
I started babysitting him, then we would go to summer camps, and I would be his counselor. Eventually I was a summer school aide, in home trainer, paraprofessional.....I worked my way up to a teacher and then some.
From the moment we met, Evan and I just got each other. He had been tossed around from clinic to clinic, misunderstood, treated differently all of his life. And I, diagnosed with dyslexia, and A.D.D. and taught reading in a hallway next to the gifted and talented class. by a VHS cassette tape. My mother was told by my fourth grade teacher, whom I idolized "don't let Kristin reach for the moon, because she will never make it, at best she could get through a trade school."
Evan and I never judged each other by our short comings, we found strength in our weakness, and we love each other unconditionally. I helped in his road to recovery and he showed me my passion in this life.

* * * *
Evan is now considered recover, and the funniest man I know.

"Evan will you come visit us in the old peoples home someday?" Chad asked him in the truck one day.
"Ummmm NO" he quickly says.
"ugh, Evan I thought we were friends-that's not very nice" I said kinda pouty.
"then what are we?" Chad says.
"ummm" he pops off, "good for nothings!" with a big grin on his face.
*sigh* Nothing puts you in your place, like being out witted and burned by the autistic guy.

Evan at the book store.

"Seriously, Evan why are you messing with your mom's fish tank? You know it really irritates her when you mess with it."
He sighs and shakes his head, "I dunno-Kristin, I guess its the autism."

* * * *
One day we were in the truck and he was rambling on about something I really didn't want to do. So I just started to ignore him (in behavior talk its called extinction.)
"So" he says, "Are you doing that behavior things where you ignore me?" he says knowing he's outwitted me again.
"Well" I say laughing, "I'm trying"

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