Inside the heart of every autistic boy floats the Island of Sodor. I read once that the only universal characteristic of autism is a love of trains; this theory may have changed but I certainly have found it to be true, and Thomas the Tank Engine, in particular, with its distinct expressions, concrete plot lines and happy endings, seems to capture and hold the hearts of these kids. It is in this context that I had the following conversation this morning:
Our boy brings me the iPod and puts it up to my ear – the music is Hark the Herald Angels Sing from A Charlie Brown Christmas. He is grinning.
“This makes my heart happy,” he says.
“That’s church music,” I note.
“I know,” he says, “Sir Topham Hat and the Engines like it.”
“What do they do at church?” I ask.
” They pray.”
” Jesus. They pray over the dead people.”
“They get married.”
“Does praying make their hearts happy?”
“Yep, and their boilers, too!”
I laugh. He becomes very earnest.
“The boilers are their hearts, Mom. The engines have boilers for hearts.”