The ‘falling stars’ of autism

Perry Como (5-18-1912 to 5-12-2001) sang “Catch a falling star and put it in your Pocket” in late 1957. What do those words mean? Like the lyrics from Perry Como’s song, when you see a falling star, you have to close your eyes and make a wish. Are those with autism falling stars?

Although there are many types of autism, one lady named Natalie writes about a family member who has a superior knowledge of facts and figures, like Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man. She currently writes for Autism Works in Boston. She has a younger brother with Autism Spectrum Disorder. This is a pervasive early developmental disorder that strongly impacts how an individual socially engages with his/her world. One type is Asperger’s Disorder. They have repetitive motions and are fixated on patterns of all types. They can have above average language skills, though they don’t use them well in social situations. They are often clumsy, as motor skills are under-developed. Those with Asperger’s are thought to have a talent that they focus on almost exclusively and are considered to be highly intelligent. Recent findings indicate that Albert Einstein may have had this condition – a “falling star” of autism.

Natali says, “If you name a Beatle’s song, my brother will tell you the exact day, month and year it was released. He’ll even tell you what day of the week it was, if you feel so inclined. In fact, this morning while I was eating breakfast, he matter-of-factly informed me that Justin Bieber shares a birthday with Roger Daltrey from The Who. He can recall any date regarding the smallest of occasions. If you ask him the last time we went to the antique store in Maine, he will tell you it was June 4, 2001, a Thursday, and it was raining, but he didn’t mind. The last time he ate shrimp was on a Wednesday, six years ago, and the weird texture and smell didn’t sit well with him. He will read ten pages of a book and then recite it back to you without skipping a beat. My brother has unique abilities unlike anyone I have ever met.”

“Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket

Never let it fade away

Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket

Save it for a rainy day.”

If you know a person with autism, why don’t you take the time to discover his gifts and spend some time with him. Remember the words of Sacred Scripture: “He numbers the stars, and gives to all of them their names,” (Psalm 147.4) or “When I see your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and stars that you set in place – what is man that you are mindful of him, and a son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him little less than a god, crowned him with glory and honor.” (Psalm 8:46).

Father Dennis Meinen serves as chaplain at Holy Spirit Retirement Home, Sioux City, for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts in the diocese and Calix for Siouxland, and Faithful Friar of the Garrigan 4th Degree Assembly of the Knights of Columbus, Sioux City.

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