Thursday, November 10, 2005


Depending upon one’s perception, it’s either exhilarating or frightening how swiftly time seems to move. Conrado remembers as if only yesterday when he and his wife bought Boyet school supplies for his kindergarten class. And now, as if suddenly, his only son is entering his third year of high school at the end of the summer.

Nowadays, he worries that Boyet, who is autistic, might get lost in transition into adulthood without the capacity for adequately understanding the rigors involved in relationships. Will Boyet who is now getting more curious about girls eventually find someone to love who will love him back?

Last Sunday, at a cousin’s birthday party, after a game of basketball, Boyet began slurring his words. He then reverted to just groaning his thoughts like a toddler. His cousins and friends are quite used to it. They know that Boyet tends to forget his words whenever he gets overly exhausted. But to some of the girls at the sideline, it was a startling sight. A couple of them tried to control their nervous laughter; unsure how to react to Boyet’s odd behavior. One of whom, Boyet has a serious crush on.

On another occasion, while Boyet was hanging out with friends in front of the house, Conrado overheard his son rating certain girls from the neighborhood. It was immediately followed by a raucous hurling of innoucuous insults on one another. They were all normal talk among teenagers all right, but what was peculiar was how Boyet laughed a bit late at his friends’ jokes -- as if following the beat of a different drum. Sometimes he has trouble deciphering jokes and would laugh anyway because his friends were already laughing. Conrado realized that Boyet usually patterns his behavior through observations and by taking clues from those around him.

And there’s also his voice. Boyet has problems varying its strength and pitch; often unaware that his supposed whispers are uttered in regular speaking volume which becomes audible to others as well. Like one time at the grocery store, he meant to whisper to his cousin about the cashier’s cleavage -- partly exposed by her blouse’s low-cut neckline -- but he unknowingly said it quite loudly; embarrassing both his cousin and the cashier.

Conrado would sometimes think of how different he was from his son. Since high school he had no problem asking the girls he desired for a date. After all, he was a popular athlete with good looks and masculine charms. In college, along with fellow varsity players, it became a sport for him to grab as many girls possible and bed them. Apathy was the rule of the land. There was no room for emotional entanglements; just pure raw lust. He made full use of his intense sex appeal but in the process made a number of young girls cry.

Even when already married with three daughters, Conrado indulged in his wanton desires. His extra marital affairs went unabated until Boyet was born. Unfortunately, the only son to carry on his name was eventually diagnosed with autism. Consequently, most of the money that Conrado saved from his years of playing professional basketball have been allocated for the boy's special education, including the hiring of speech and cognitive therapists.

Oftentimes, Conrado ponders that perhaps, the universe ushered in Boyet into his life to teach him about the matters of the heart.

“How ironic,” he would muse, “that it would take a child to teach me about something I always thought I was a master of.” As for his three daughters, he knows they were meant to remind him of women’s vulnerabilities in a world full of unpleasant intentions.

But what he’s certain about is that none of his children will have to pay for any of his wrongdoings; he doesn’t believe in a cruel and unmerciful God. He’s fully resigned to the idea that someday he alone will step up and stand before God to answer for his actions.

His wife and the girls will come home next week from their month-long vacation in San Diego. Next month, he and Boyet, just father and son, will fly to New York for a couple of weeks to visit with his mother and brothers. While there, Conrado plans to seek an appointment with a specialist to take a look at his son.

As for tomorrow, he plans to take Boyet to the tailor to have new school uniforms made for him. He gained height and weight during the past few months; looking more like a young man now than a young boy. After the tailor, they will head on over to Glorietta to catch the new Batman movie.

In the darkness of the theater, Boyet will blend in with the crowd like a regular normal young man and delight in the superhero’s latest adventure. As for a miracle cure to completely eradicate his autism, Conrado, like a child, will wish he could summon Batman to do the job.


Center for the Study of Autism

Parents of Autistic Children


posted by Señor Enrique at 6:49 AM


Blogger RAV Jr said...

I guess, before i finish reading all your posts, i will be a really transformed into a good person that i should be... i am learning and realising truths and values in life from your articles...


November 08, 2006 2:28 PM  

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Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


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