Voices of Autism: ‘The World Looks Cool Upside Down’

Every day throughout April–Autism Awareness Month–we will be featuring a different reader-submitted story about living with autism. Today’s story was written by Karen Golightly, mother of Pip, 6:

I’m a single mother of three children, who are 14, 12, and 6. My youngest, Pip, was diagnosed with autism when he was 3.  Autism has changed my family, the way we see each other, and our relationship to the world.

Pip has taught us all so much that we would never have encountered: how the world looks cool upside down with one eye squinted; that sleeping in a hammock doesn’t have to be reserved for naps or vacations; how elbows can be entirely perfect; that things get overwhelming for everyone and there are ways you can calm it all down again; that Tom and Jerry have captured the very essence of funny; why a gesture can speak just as loudly as words; how the view from the top of a tree can change a bad day into a good one; and that distributing Ring Pops globally could probably create world peace.

Pip is charming as the day is long. He’ll walk into a room, intuitively find the saddest person in it, and immediately know how to make them smile and laugh. Through few words, he’s won over countless teachers, therapists, IEP administrators, doctors, flight attendants, tired parents standing in long lines at Disney World, and even people who don’t speak his language. It’s Pipspeak at times; it’s English other times; and sometimes it’s a sound, a song, or a call that he’s made up on his own. It’s his hand in my own, his smile at the mailman, his infectious laugh; or his eyes that light up at the sight of a fish.

He’s an amazing artist, drawing the world that exists in his mind in intricate detail and color. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen from a 6-year-old before: houses perched on the edges of volcanoes and surfers riding tidal waves, airplanes, submarines and rockets swooshing through air, water, space. And the faces of people smiling all over the place.  He’s taken the “dis” out of disability and made it his own lovely personality. And when he wakes up each day and tells me he’s dreamed of climbing to the top of a very tall tree, I can only imagine his view from above and within. He’s Pip “the whip,” as they call him at school, and a boy who touches the hearts of many.

To read previous stories in this series, click here. For instructions on how to submit your story, click here.

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  1. by Casdok

    On April 13, 2011 at 9:45 am

    Just a different way of seeing things – teaches us so much :)

  2. by Grace

    On April 13, 2011 at 10:27 am

    Pip sounds like quite a charmer. Lovely post.

  3. by Callie

    On April 13, 2011 at 11:19 am

    This reminds me a lot of my son Kyle. Autism has been a challenge for us, but it has been one we have embraced. From reading this Kyle and Pip have a lot in common. Though Kyle is only going to be 5 this June. I would love to get in touch with you and learn more of you experiences with Pip. They may help me with Kyle.

  4. by dalia

    On April 13, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    Amazing! Simply amazing : )

  5. by Barbara Manatee

    On April 13, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    Your son sounds amazing! I am a teacher for kids with Autism. Each one has taught me something about how I see this world.

    April is Autism Awareness Month. I’m dedicating my blog all month long to Autism.