The Walk

Tuesday 10 May 2011This is 12 years old. Be careful.

My son Nat is turning 22 this year, which means he leaves school, and his school residence, so we’re working on finding a home for him. It’s a complicated process, both logistically and emotionally. Nat needs supervision, and we’re experts at it. It’s hard to know how others will do looking out for him. His speech is idiosyncratic, he needs some help with daily tasks, and get fixated on unusual things.

The other day, Max handed me a small comic book and said, “read it, it’s good.” I assumed it was something funny, or Japanese, or otherwise appealing to a 19-year-old. But it wasn’t, it was The Walk, by Ryan Pequin:

First panel of The Walk

I was stunned by this story. Russ is much older than Nat, but otherwise eerily similar to him. Nat could have said or done any of the things that Russ did in the story, except that he wouldn’t go out by himself. Looking at how Russ experiences his life is very moving, and was the center of a number of conversations around our dinner table. Is Russ happy? Is he being well-cared for?

It’s very hard to imagine what Nat’s life will be like, there are so many unknowns. We want him to have as full a world as possible, but we also know that it’s very intensive to provide him with opportunities and to make him successful at them. How do we find people that can give him what we can give him? How do we teach them all about Nat? How will we know what’s really happening with him?

This story gently touches on all of these issues, with a character that could have been based on Nat. His window even looks like Nat’s window in his school residence. I don’t know what Ryan based the story on. The paper copy we have ends with “For Tom,” and I don’t know who Tom is. But Ryan has hit the nail on the head with The Walk.


Thanks for sharing this Ned. It communicates a perspective that I could spends hours, if not days trying to express verbally and likely never accomplish.
This story really touched me for several reasons. I've got a newborn who just turned two months old. He was born with several physical issues, including severe torticollis and a pronounced asymmetry to his head and shoulders. He requires physical therapy daily and may need some corrective surgery repair or reduce the asymmetry. He wasn't diagnosed in utero so we had no idea when signing up for daycare that he would need all this extra attention.

No one can take care of our son the way we how do we know that he'll get the care he needs? How do we know he'll be well cared for? He'll surely be singled out socially for being "different", how will that be addressed? It's such an issue for us that I'm considering staying at home to care for Jack full-time because of these "challenges."

I understand that autism is very different, but I think we both want the same for quality of life our children. It's a very tough thing to deal with.

Thanks for sharing Ned.
Why don't you write and ask him? He's Canadian (!) and seems to be very accessible.

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