Carrie was talking to herself while playing on the computer just a few minutes ago. I heard her call out my name but I was afraid that if I went in there with her, she would clam up. So I just called out from the kitchen to ask her what she needed.
She went on a rehearsed (hence the talking to herself) three minute monologue about a tornado.
“The tornado broke the roof and made the cake splat. It broke the window pane and put glass all over the cake. We cowered in the closet crying and the tornado made rain go into the house.”
That’s pretty impressive. It’s very creative, but it’s also got a level of accuracy to it. Now…hold on to your hat.
The events that Carrie practiced and talked about happened on her second birthday. We’ve never told her about them because I didn’t know how much she could understand, but also because I consciously did not want her to be afraid every single time the weather sirens went off or the news mentioned a tornado in another part of our state. I know we’ve never told her about what happened on that birthday, but while the girls were still in their bed and crib, an F2 tornado passed between our house and our detached garage. It ripped the roof off over our heads while I huddled in the closet with both girls, the wind breaking out the windows on that side of the house and destroying my car in the driveway.
And sure enough, the only reason I was awake to grab them out of their beds was because I had gotten up early to make a birthday cake for Carrie. Of course, a giant shard of glass from the kitchen window was standing up in her cake when I was finally able to go into the kitchen and smaller pieces were scattered all over the countertop.
So how does she know? Because she remembers it. I’ve heard descriptions from adults with autism about events that they swear they remember, events that family members dismiss because it’s simply not possible that they can remember that far back. But these adults can state details that no video camera or retelling from Aunt Sarah could have shared with them. There are parts of the brain that maybe these people can access that are cutoff to the rest of us. Either way, it means there will probably be no forgetting, so all of our memories have to count.