Or maybe not.
The problem with such proclamations is that you inevitably find the person who is the exception to perhaps a valid rule.
I did that the other day. Of course, it was in an effort to help someone. We have a young man in our synagogue who is autistic. He was having a tough day and was shrieking more than usual, and his father then tried to take him out of the sanctuary as quickly as possible. The congregation doesn’t mind; we all know it’s not a situation of choice. We all do want him there and we want the best for him and his family.
We all can agree that we don’t know what that is.
A friend of mine inquired if I think this boy knows what he is doing, if he has control over his actions. I told her that I really don’t know, but that I read a book recently that, according to this account, the body is not really able to get the messages that the brain sends out, and so even if the mind (whatever that is) has cognizance of something being not okay, it still doesn’t reach the body and so the action happens despite their best intentions. The book is The reason I jump by Naoki Higashida. (I mentioned it back here, in case it sounds familiar.) I told her that I think this should be required reading by everyone in our shul, at least.
Then, after services, I met the mother while walking into the social hall for Kiddush. I told her my reaction. She was not in agreement. She said that when they first got the diagnosis for their son, she started reading everything in sight. Her reaction to the first book was, “This is not my child.” And to the second book, “This is not my child, either.” Very quickly, she learned not to read the accounts. Most of them were written by highly-functioning autistic people, so they were definitely not her child. So she gave up reading such books and so she says there are no must-read books on this subject.
So even though she said that her son does not know what he is doing in an answer to the question posed above, I countered her, because I know that he oftentimes will say, “Sorry”, after he does something that he wants to do, but he knows that the person might not like it. So he does have some sense in some certain cases of things that are expected socially. She agreed. So I said that this book gives an indication that there are times that are that the person is not in control and there may be times that there is a wish to control.
She didn’t back off of her statement that there should not be one book that is mandatory. She did say that maybe she would consider reading it and then she would be able to tell me what she thought.
I won’t blame her if she doesn’t read it. I can’t even imagine how she manages to find time to do what she does.
And time is not really what I wonder about.