Our family friend Ranga has attended holiday gatherings with us for 20-some years. He came here originally from India, and doesn't have family here, so he became a part of ours. Hayden has been in the same room with him at nearly every holiday party since he was born. In usual Hayden style, he hasn't paid attention. He doesn't notice faces. Because of his Autism he gets an overall impression of a person based on their body type, or clothes, or hair color. He used to follow people with Bill's body type at the park, because he didn't know his face. I had to watch him carefully. Today he asked me who Uncle Andy was; My mom's brother, who he also sees every holiday. But the quote of the year was this, when he noticed Ranga today:
"Why is Barack Obama here?"
Hayden, that's our friend Ranga. You've seen him before.
"What does he do? Are you the President?"
No, no, I'm not the President.
Hayden, you have lots of friends with brown skin, like Fred at Cornerstone, or Orin at school. This is Ranga, he's Grandpa's friend. He's not the President.
"Oh." (not really getting it.)
"...Why is he that color?"
Because God likes to make everyone different.
"Oh." (Still not really getting it.) So at 10 or 15 minute intervals, he would just ask again. "Are you the President?" No, still not him.
After about the fourth time he asked, Ranga finally said, "Yes, yes I am the President." My brother says, "Is your Secret Service entourage in the bushes out back?" Mom explains why it's a tough job and no one should want to do it.
Meanwhile Hayden is in the other room playing Angry Birds and has filed the incident in his brain under, "Well that was interesting. Just met the President. Were Mario characters involved? No...delete facial recognition and all memory of the event." So he'll probably ask him again at the next holiday. Unless he fails to notice he's even in the room, because after all, no Mario characters were involved.
Just another day in the life of the strange world of Autism. :)