Ok, here's what happened. I was working on a freelance logo design when I realized that maybe I needed more fonts than just the Arial. So I spent several hours looking online for some new typefaces. There were sleek ones, funny ones, scrolly ones, blocky ones with little chunks nibbled out that made the word cheese pop into my head. Scanning on, I came across the Lavirint font, I thought of impact, and ripples, and echoes- and this time my son's name Roman jumped into my head.
I couldn't say why the idea of the labyrinth grabbed me so immediately, but I wrote the word Autism in the font and let it sit for a while. When my husband came home from work, he saw it up on my computer, and he liked it.
Of course Jeff, being a creative artist, was able to sum up the magic of the Lavirint typeface in actual words. Two words, actually: creative and cartesian. Each letter reminded him of a unique digital fingerprint, and he loved that when all put together, the word AUTISM is a bit hard to read. That moment of authenticity- between seeing and understanding- is at the core of our experience of being out in the world with Roman. It's the instant that reclassifies us as parent and child, usually coinciding with a disapproving stare from a passerby.
Roman was identified on the spectrum at age 3, and I can't say that every day has been funny over the past seven years. He had Epilepsy up until a mercifully successful seizure surgery five years ago (knock wood!), and is still quite behind both socially and academically. At times we feel like we are living the culminating dance moment from "Little Miss Sunshine"- over and over.
Some days miraculously go by though peppered with pleases and thank yous, I love yous, and even extremely short back rubs. Since we have two children older than Roman, we feel like this is pretty typical child behavior, and we try to roll with it.
When I looked up the history of the labyrinth, two Greek myths loom large. In the first, King Minos commissions Daedelus to build the labyrinth under his castle in order to contain the deadly half man, half bull Minotaur. Minos' daughter Ariadne took a shine to Athenian warrior Theseus however, and gave him a sword and ball of thread unraveled from her very own robe to help him navigate his way out of the labyrinth after killing the beast. Sadly, things didn't work out so great for Ariadne though- the new hero Theseus took off in a boat shortly thereafter, leaving her to some pretty drafty and awkward silences at mealtimes, I'm sure! A cautionary tale for you ladies out there- be careful to whom you entrust a life-saving ball of thread!
In labyrinth 2.0, King Minos is irritated that Theseus threaded his way out alive, and throws architect Daedelus and son Icarus into the maze. I know, right? So mean! Silver lining: the labyrinth is freshly Minotaur-free... Anyhow, threadless, father and son fashion huge sets of wings, affixing them to their persons with wax. Myth has it that they fly out of the labyrinth (although by my calculations, they should technically bump their heads on the castle joists, and possibly suffer some serious brain trauma. The end.) They escape! And, well, let's just say it's important to listen to your parents- and leave it at that.
To us, the labyrinth is about the daily journey, the turnings and routines that are alternately easy and hard, most of the time without us having any idea why. Sometimes we lead and sometimes we follow- the thread connects us and gives us hope.
PS: A special thank you to the font's creator, Djordje Jovanovic, a student at the Academy of Fine Arts in Sarajevo, for his generosity in allowing us to use his typography.