My studio, where I design my jewelry has windows facing west into Manhattan and north looking out onto the 59th Street Bridge. The flow of traffic making its way to and from Manhattan is oddly soothing to me, though I never take anything other than the subway to and from work.
Many autistic children are fascinated by some mode of transportation. I remember at Emma’s preschool there was a little boy who was high functioning. He would recite all the stops on every subway line in New York City. When he was on the carousel in the park he would shout out the stops. “Next stop, 59th Street, Columbus Circle,” he’d yell. “Connections to the A, B, C, D and 1 trains!”
Richard was standing next to the child’s father as this went on. “He forgot 50th Street,” Richard said at one point.
“No, 50th Street is under construction this week,” the boy’s father replied without taking his eyes off his son.
Emma doesn’t keep tabs on the subway system, if she did, I wouldn’t need my iTransNYC app on my iphone. However she does prefer taking the subway and can lead anyone through its maze of exits and entrances like the seasoned subway rider she has become. She knows which train to take and will say things like, “No take the red train.” Meaning she wants to take the train running under 7th Avenue leading from our house to Central Park or she’ll say, “Take the yellow train?” Which typically indicates she wants to go to the zoo in Central Park or FAO Schwartz and the Apple store.
Emma is an adept traveler on airplanes, trains of any kind and even in cars, she will sit quietly gazing out the window, humming. Emma’s memory comes into play with events which happened often years ago – as demonstrated when she says things like, “Amy all gone. Amy move away.”
This is in reference to her preschool teacher now almost five years since she last saw her. In addition, Emma has an uncanny ability of remembering the tunes to songs. She is able to hear a song once and then we will hear her sing it note for note sometimes a week or two later. The lyrics are often garbled and when she doesn’t remember the exact words or cannot pronounce them she’ll sing an incomprehensible version or will fill in by humming, keeping the tune intact. I am in awe of Emma’s ability to hold a tune and her memory of lyrics, particularly when she usually does not understand the words. This is an audio recording of Emma singing “The Mambo” one of her favorite songs from an Elmo Video in which Linda Ronstadt, dressed up as a mariachi band member sings.