The Boy Who Loves to Watch Sand Fall From His Hand

I’ve been reading a book called How to be Alone by Sara Maitland. Simply put, it’s a book about how and why you can and should be alone. It’s not a book about loneliness, but it is still a bit weird to be reading it on the subway, during rush hour, in Toronto.

In any case, I’ve been working with students with developmental disabilities for the last two days. I have worked with this class before, but never for two days back-to-back. They’re a great group of four boys.

Chalkboard - Sand Falling from Hand

It’s an interesting environment, the classroom. I’m not alone with the class, like I would be in a typical classroom. There’s an Educational Assistant (EA) with me at all times, except when s/he’s on a break. I’m lucky to have been able to work with many great EAs, who are incredibly competent and capable. They make my day easy, even, at times, to the point where I’m just following their lead.

Bringing this back around, working with these boys is fascinating because they, for the most part, exist in their own world. We, the EA and I, are just people who interrupt an existence that we’ll never even breach a rudimentary understanding of.

The boys understand what we’re saying when we speak to them, and they follow instructions that they are familiar with, but they can’t speak. They make sounds and gestures and reactions that leave only clues for what they might be thinking or feeling.

It’s heartbreaking at times, but rewarding at others. I’ve started to leave my heart in the glovebox once I arrive at work.

So, where are we? Yes, of course, the boy who loves to watch sand fall from his hand.

One boy, who will forever remain nameless, for his privacy, loves to watch sand fall from his hands. He loves it. He becomes overwhelmed with joy. So much so that he screams with delight; a gleeful, overjoyed, captivated, incredulous expulsion of non-verbal vocal joy. It’s unbelievably fascinating to see. It’s purely pleasure. This kid, he’s happy when he watches and feels the sand falling from his hand. Every grain is a treasure he releases into the wind.

Watching him, I just want to be alone in his world. For a minute, or just long enough for a handful of sand to fall freely from my hand.

There’s a story somewhere in all of this. I’ll write it.


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