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  • "Mrs. Ford?" The urgent and melodramatic junior high school secretary spoke through my Samsung.

    It wasn't the secretary on the other line. Not really. Autism was calling. My son Josh is nonverbal, 13, and autistic. Often his eyes relay what his mind and mouth can't say.

    "Josh is having a bad day," she said. "We need you to come and get him."

    "I'm an hour away," I said. "I won't be there anytime soon."

    "Well. Okay. As soon as you can."

    I strode from Little Rock West's commercial district to I-40 South. I-40 eventually narrows and exits onto Sarah Palin's "Main Street, USA" where the majority of folks cling to their Bibles and their guns.

    At some point during my forty-three mile commute, the school transferred Josh from the classroom to the local police station.

    At best, I imagined my son in the police department's only holding cell. At worst, they'd place plastic pink cuffs around his wrists and fasten him to a steel bench in the hallway.

    When I got there, Joshua strolled toward me; he walked closely beside the young police officer. His swagger said it all. He'd beat the brick in the wall.

    "He's fine," the officer promised. "He had some problems at school, but he's been fine here at the department."

    Over a bag of bbq potato chips from the small town's city vending machine, Joshua befriended a group of older guys dressed in blue.

    photo: Josh, 2007

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