Dec 16, 2011 0 Share

A Young Man Who Likes Old Things

Retro antique shop sign.

Perhaps it is the spirit of days gone by, when life was much less complicated, that brings Cody to a place where he is of a peaceful heart toward everyone and everything around him.

Antiquing is one of Cody’s favorite past times. From the moment we walk into an antique store, all distractions from the outside world seem to disappear. I see my son transform into this young man who finds a quiet and contented place inside himself where he feels free to be curious and inquisitive about all the things from generations past he sees before him.

He wanders from booth to booth inspecting all the things of old he sees. Unlike other times and other places where he has more of a boisterous demeanor, in an antique store he takes great care and thoughtfulness when handling and examining items on display that capture his attention.

He ponders over them surveying each detail. Occasionally, he asks, “What is this?” “What does it do?” “What is this for?” When we give him answers to his questions, he listens with mindful focus.

Some of Cody’s favorite articles to look at are antique lamps. Many of them have the Tiffany-style shades with the stained glass designs of a multitude of colors. Some are hurricane lamps, which sometimes still have oil reservoirs and work by lighted wick. Others have been revamped to work by electricity. Cody enjoys the ones he can actually turn on and off in the store, which he may do a couple of times before moving on to the next object he notices.

Other things Cody likes are old lunch pails. For instance there was one that was covered in leather and had an image of young children playing etched on the face of it. He also likes the different types and colors of old bottles such as the brown vanilla bottles or the cobalt blue ones that may have been used for medicines.

Then there are the different types of blankets, quilts or bedspreads. Chenille is one of Cody’s particular favorites to touch and feel. While some people with autism are tactilely defensive, Cody is the opposite. He is tactilely sensitive. This means instead of having an aversion to how things feel to him, he has a deep fascination with how things feel to him.

I have often wondered what it is about this environment that makes such a difference in Cody’s overall behavior from the time we step from the car to the time we enter the building. There is almost an instant metamorphosis in his conduct, his personality, really his whole state of being. He even seems to take on a different appearance. The rather hyper animation and expression we are used to seeing in Cody seems to stay in the car to be replaced by a mood of repose and tranquility.

One of the things that I have noticed is that most antique shops have music playing overhead. Generally, it is very soft and soothing. Sometimes the genre is classical but I have also heard acoustic, indie and different types of ballads.

Typically the stores most always have a cozy kind of atmosphere. The booths are neatly arranged, some even to the point they may look like a bedroom from the 19th century.

Occasionally, we do more than window shop. We have been known to buy. Over the years we have built up quite the collection of different pieces of antique furniture and accessories. Cody’s bedroom now looks somewhat like the captain’s quarters of a ship. Our family room resembles our vision of what the living quarters of an old lighthouse might look like. These are two of Cody’s favorite rooms in the house. Neither room has a radio or television. In the family room he often enjoys sitting in the quiet by the fireplace and walking around what he calls his “Antique Road Show Room.”

Even though Cody is now 25 years old¸ we still must engage in positive support for appropriate behavior, actions and decisions. And one of the best rewards we can offer him is a day out to the antique stores, even if it is only to look.