Out and About in East Hampton

Written By: Arlene  Coulter

It’s hard to remember, this far down the road, how i felt when i first realized what was happening with Jack.  I do remember what I did. While his pediatrician was insisting that he was fine, that boys talk later than girls, and my daughter was looking for ways to  help him function, I took a stack of books out of the East Hampton library.  When I’d read enough to confirm my fears, I got into the shower, turned on the water full force, and screamed.  They told me that Jack had the sensory implications of autism.

He’s too connected socially though, to be autistic.   His diagnosis became dyspraxia (lack of speech) with motor sensory implications.  He’s hypo-sensitive, so he loves the trampoline and tight hugs, which is great for me since i love to hug him. it’s hard for him to use hands for fine functions such as writing.  He has some words now, particularly those relating to desires – wanting to go out,  food to eat.

Jack’s mom, my daughter, once was the love of my life,  now she takes second place to him.  She has embraced the gift and challenge she’s been given as an opening to a larger world.   Given her loving care, her seventeen year old boy becoming man, accepts his challenges and defines his passions.

He may not have much speech, but he smiles more than he cries, laughs more than he whines, runs down the street in exuberant teen age fashion and has a hug for everyone he chooses as a friend.  He loves his mother so clearly, so openly, and shows it as well as, or better than, most teen agers do.

When he’s out and about, he often finds a sympathetic adult to befriend, who returns the favor. Starbucks  and Citarella on Main Street are his favorite places to meet and greet.   The turkey and olive purveyors at Citarella are now his friends, call out Hi Jack when he enters the store and listen carefully when he asks for olives, and then, turkey. On the street, he has an intuitive sense about whom to approach and whom to avoid, almost uncanny in its accuracy.

The Atlantic Ocean is his home; he loves to swim and particularly to body surf and let the waves wash over him. He takes a running start from halfway up the beach and flings himself head first into an oncoming wave.
East Hampton is its subsidiary. It’s also a town with lots of good running places. Because he loves to run so much we’ve found a local coach to run with him and teach him pacing.  They take off from Herrick Park on Newtown Lane and do a three mile run.

So often, whether it’s when we’re out romping, going to Citarella for his favorite olives, doing the laundry, I simply forget that he cant speak much or write easily can’t handle a full  schedule.  He’s just my lovable guy.  And he, I think, forgets that I can’t run the way he can, talk too much, and can’t see without my glasses.  I’m just the Nana he loves.