David is my teenage son and autistic. When first diagnosed at the age of three, the doctor told me he would never develop mentally. However, over the years he has evolved within his own world. Here, I hope to tell of some of the strange but sometimes wonderful things about him and hopefully give a little insight and understanding into living with autism.

No Sunday Roast column this week. A few people know it has been a difficult time of late, to say the least. One of my major concerns is David and his future. I’m not going to dwell on the problems as it’s not appropriate to speak about them at present. Rest assured, he’s well and getting the support he needs in order to progress in the coming months. Therefore, what I’d like to do is focus on the positive and talk about the incredible memory of someone on the autistic spectrum.

David enjoys his music. He loves his camera and videos. He will sit at the computer, strategically place his MP3 and record via the speakers, music off You Tube. At the same time, he will have numerous other browsers open. While the backing track is playing, he will switch between clips from TV shows and his own recordings. On top of that, he will commentate.

He was at mine the other day, taking a rare opportunity at the minute to access the internet. I didn’t see him for hours. However, he came downstairs at one point and spoke to me.

‘Dad, what’s this?’

He proceeded to hum a tune which I vaguely recognised, but not enough to know what it was. He repeated it several times and was quite consistent.

‘Okay, David, is this something I have in my collection?’

‘Yes.’

Didn’t tell me much, and he had no idea which artist it was. Therefore …

‘When did you hear me playing it, David?’

‘In car,’ he answered.

Ahh … we were getting somewhere. A clue. ‘When did you hear me play it in the car?’

‘2003.’

I stopped. 2003? He was having a laugh.

‘David,’ I said, ‘how the hell do you expect me to remember 2003? I mean, where were we?’

‘Safari Park.’

Right. So basically, I had to recall what CD I had on in the car during a visit to West Midlands Safari Park, ten years ago.

I scanned through my collection of 700 CDs, looking at ones which I would have had for ten years or more. Narrow it down. However, I soon realised this was a waste of time as I’ve culled hundreds in recent years and as it wasn’t a tune I instantly knew, it stood a chance I no longer had it.

Half an hour searching and David repeating the tune. Nothing. I even tried him with the app on my phone which identifies songs. However, that only seems to work if you play the actual song.

In the end …

‘What else did we listen to that day?’

‘Duran Duran,’ David said.

Okay, it didn’t sound like any Duran Duran I knew. Maybe an album track?

I was subjected to another ten minutes of David’s rendition and had a thought.

‘David, sing me some other songs you heard that day?’

He did. Some were Duran Duran, others, I didn’t recognize. Then …

‘Wait, that’s Common People, by Pulp. Not Duran Duran. An hour there and an hour back to the Safari Park, it was unlikely we’d have had more than two albums on during the journey.

Pulp.

I dug into my CD collection. I hadn’t listened to Pulp for ages. I found Greatest Hits, stuck it on. Finally, track 11 – This is Hardcore.

‘That’s it!’ shouted David, excited.

Sorted. It was the piano piece from the song he’d been singing. Therefore, after that, and for the rest of the afternoon, I heard, This is Hardcore blasting from the computer, interspersed with his other recordings.

But I’m amazed. How the hell can he recall what songs were playing on a certain date? Another mystery of the autistic mind. But then, I don’t think there goes a day spent with David where he doesn’t amaze me in one way or another.

Cheers.

Nick

IMGP5685 (1024x768)  David listening to his music © Antony N Britt

David listening to his music.

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