I watch from my end of the video chat as Adam’s lanky frame once again escapes the purview of my Zoom screen. He is answering the beckoning call of a stick he gleaned from the woods earlier that day. When Estée, his mother and communication partner, reorients their screen in Toronto, I can see Adam rhythmically twallowing the stick in his left hand, expertly moving it back and forth like a windshield wiper or wing.
Estée takes the keyboard to him and Adam begins typing again with his right hand: “I am wanting to ask you a question I have. I am wanting to ask the teacher how you can think with me so easily about doing poetry love that you can have thinking about much movement using me good to have support about it and understanding. That is meaningful to me and I thank you doing the dance.”
This dance—which Adam alternatively calls a jam or an assembly or a rally—was at once metaphorical and real. Adam, who is a nonspeaking autistic eighteen-year-old, often makes a peripatetic sort of dance of our one-hour session, alternately typing and repositioning himself elsewhere in the room. But he also leads the dance of conversation by way of his writing, which sets a different choreography in motion. Today, as most days, the three of us are joined by Ellen, one of Adam’s art collaborators.