My great-niece has high-functioning autism. She is here with her family: my sister's daughter, her husband and their son.



They arrived two nights ago. We have kittens and they are taking three of them home to Tennessee. I was holding my favorite kitten and she walked up to me to admire the cat, repeated his name, and walked away. Five minutes later, she did the exact same thing again. It was so cute. Then about a half hour later, she saw him on the floor, didn't recognize him and introduced herself to the kitten like we had never spoken of him.



She is so adorable and so smart. She can read extremely well. She is fixated on time, specifically her bedtime, which is 7 p.m.



A few minutes after she found the kitten on the floor, she comes over to my computer, and leans down to look at my screen. I was working on the Press Gazette website and didn't want her to read what I was writing, but before I could say anything, she looked at me and asked what time it was. I said it was 9:27.  With a very serious voice, she replies quietly, "Oh that is bad."



I looked at my niece and she says, "She is fixated on her bedtime."  Her daughter walked over to her to tell her it was late and she needed to go to bed. My niece explained to her how they were on vacation and it was okay to go to bed later.



About a half hour later, she tells her mom how tired she is and that she would like to go to the hotel and go to bed. Her little brother chimed in and they left a short while after.



It is interesting watching her play and interact with the other children. To me, she appears a tiny bit detached and ... happy to do her own thing. She speaks very concisely and asks questions often.



The first time I met her was a year ago. She walked into my kitchen where I was standing and told me, "This is your kitchen." I smiled and told her, "Yes it is."



"You cook in here," she says. "You cook meals for your family." I confirmed what she said. Then she put her hand on my kitchen table and told me, "Is this your table? Is this where you eat with your family?"



I smiled and told her, "Yes it is."



Then she walked away.



I find her to be delightful. She is open and expressive. She thinks through what she is going to say, very carefully. It appears, unlike a lot of children, that she listens as carefully as she speaks. I know she is focused at the time you answer her. I am not sure how her retention is, based on the kitten thing.



Her particular type of autism is Asberger's. I knew little of it until one of my grown children told me a couple of years ago that he was diagnosed with Asberger's.  That week. As an adult. I wanted to argue and tell him that isn't true, but I began to think back over his childhood. I realized it could be possible. I checked the list of symptoms and he has several. Even in adulthood he exhibits many.



It seems odd to me that one in 88 children show signs of autism, according to the Center for Disease Control. It has to have an environmental cause.



Whatever causes it, I find much delight in spending time with my great-niece. Her perspectives are enlightening.