Nadia Bloom, the lovely 11-year-old girl who spent several days lost in a swamp, was blessedly found safe and barely the worse for wear – an amazingly lucky girl. An aside that has been mentioned is that Nadia also has Asperger syndrome, as does our Boy, a year younger.
Asperger’s, like all forms of spectrum disorders, plays out in different ways in the different people if affects, but there are a few fairly universal features: inability to make eye contact (this can sometimes be taught through practice, but not always, and even when taught does not generally hold well in times of stress), inability to read nonverbal cues – and sometimes more subtle verbal ones, lack of understanding of social norms, and a perspective that revolves entirely upon how the outside world might interact with them instead of how they might interact with the outside world.
Along with much of the country, this morning I watched young Nadia take to the air to give the public some information about her experience, and I smiled as I recognized the face of Asperger’s staring … well, staring at the floor actually. I smiled because I immediately recognized that child who did not want to look at the camera/screen in front of her that had Robin Roberts on it asking her questions, that child who let everyone know matter of factly that she really didn’t actually want to be there this morning, the girl who meant it when she said she did get to see nature — hysterical to the rest of us, but she was actually pretty serious.
At this point, she’s been through a lot of chaos surrounding all of this already, so she’s become a bit desensitized to it, and I’m sure her parents did a lot to help prepare her for all of it. Their comments during the ordeal and their requests to searchers early on to please leave water bottles and notes asking her to stay in one place showed that they knew both their daughter and her Asperger’s. When I heard that Nadia was lost, I thought of my own child and his Asperger’s, and my heart stopped to contemplate him being out there on his own and trying to predict what he might do and how he might react. I thought of posting about it here, but when she was still missing, I didn’t want to do that.
After this morning though, I thought that Nadia presented a window to Asperger’s that you might appreciate. You won’t know what you’re seeing like we do, but I can only hope that one of the good things to come from her days in danger will be education.
Please take a few minutes to watch, particularly when Nadia speaks to Robin. Video here.