Thursday, December 12, 2002

One of my favorite parts of one of my favorite movies (which I still don't have for my DVD collection, last-minute Christmas shoppers) is the credits of the movie Rain Man. I wonder if the photos shown during the credits were the product of Dustin Hoffman's shooting during the filming. I marvelled at them because they showed perspectives and brought out patterns in scenes that would have otherwise flashed by. Randomness, genius, or genius disguised as randomness? Some of Grant's blog pictures remind me of this style.

Not to say that Grant is autistic. Definitely. Definitely not autistic. Def-def-definitely.


When I worked at Bonnie Doon Leisure Centre, there was a regular patron that was autistic. He was odd but fairly harmless, travelling by himself to the pool and swimming, hot-tubbing and steaming (in the steam room) with no great exertion. As a pudgy, fair-skinned individual, he always looked a bit lost but very intense about wherever it was that he was meant to be going. He would often come and talk to the guards on deck (he came during the daytime lane swims) when there was little else to do but talk to Randy.

Randy's thing (the focus of his autism that manifested his visits with us) was diction. Specifically, pronunciation of the English language. It was obvious to anyone that spoke with him that he was confused (and rightly so) by the flakiness of the rules surrounding how groups of letters are pronounced differently, depending on which word they were inhabiting at the time. Unfortunately, the label of the place that the conversations took place was inevitably one of the worst offenders. The POOL.

Pool, stood, school, food, took, tool - the double oh combination in these should all be pronounced the same way, according to Randy. I cannot begin to think how to write how he wanted them pronounced. The ohs were always drawn out, and would need o's, u's and umlauts to do them justice. Another thing that would set Randy off on a diction lesson to the guard on deck was any of the imitation (or close to) "oo" sounds - cute, could, rumour, ... all triggers.

Randy would also love to share his daily schedule with us, expecting us to comment and recite back to him what he had just outlined. Some guards wouldn't talk to Randy, telling him they were busy, then climbing up into the guard chair and intently scanning back and forth across an almost empty pool until, discouraged, tired of standing at the foot of the guard chair, Randy would purposefully stride off, talking to himself and counting on his fingers.

Personally, I didn't mind talking to Randy and trying to memorize (and recite back) his daily schedule. It helped keep me awake and (I feel) entertained and calmed him. He loved to try and have us speak and pronounce words according to his elaborate set of rules, which I could never quite understand. I would be out on deck, contorting my mouth into the right shape and extension of pucker to make the proper "oooo" sound.

I miss Randy, his schedules and diction lessons.

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