And in the pew in front of us is usually another boy like TH, except older. It's not like these kids are wearing signs or anything, and I've already mentioned that I never try to diagnose people from a distance, or even close up. But...you do notice things. When I saw Hannah Poling's parents on television smoothing their hands over her arms and hands while she (apparently) passively allowed it, I knew immediately the purpose of that movement, that feeling with a child on the spectrum, soothing them in unfamiliar territory with this comfort-giving touch. And when I hear the little girl doing her seagull noises followed by other behaviors that are so familiar to me, I feel a connection to her family in some way and wonder if they feel a connection to ours, as we sit, in the pew in front of them, and smooth over TH's neck, arms, and hands while he makes his faces, his sounds, his gestures, as he props his body heavily on mine for support of his hypotonic trunk.
I know that TH's behaviors are noteworthy, in that for some families, they are probably worth noting because of a common connection, while in other families, they just look plain odd. And when I see the older boy who sits in front of us lean on his mother as she rubs his arms, and I see him turn to her, come far too close to her face to stare steadily and unblinking into her eyes, and I see the family experience these things for the everyday happenings they are, I know that we all have more in common than being Episcopalian. I can't say what these kids have, if anything. Could be just quirky. Could be Tourette's. Could be...I simply can't say. But I do have this strong feeling, as we turn to one another and say "Peace be with you," that when we three families shake hands, make eye contact (or not), and exchange this best of wishes with one another, we all might have a fairly similar idea of what we mean by "peace."