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"Hi, Dylan boy!" Jeffrey Crowder said to his son, mustering as much enthusiasm as he could upon arriving home for the day and greeting his only child.
Dylan Crowder, Jeffrey's ten year old son, said nothing in return. He was sitting in the middle of the living room floor, turning a small robot dog over and over in his hands, examining the toy from every possible angle.
Jeffrey looked over at his wife, just coming into the room from the kitchen. She wiped her hands on her apron and glanced at her son. She smiled at Dylan but he was just as unresponsive toward her as he had been with his father. She came on over to her husband. They kissed in the affectionate fashion of long married couples.
"How long has he been doing that, Marge?" He nodded his head in the direction of the boy.
"Oh, a couple of hours now. You know how he gets."
"Hasn't he even tried to talk to the dog or get it to wag its tail or bark like we showed him?"
"Jeff, I've gone over the basics of that dog thing with him more times than I can count--when he lets me take it away from him, that is. He still just holds it and examines it like he's trying to see inside the thing." Her voice held a tinge of irritation, not an infrequent occurrence in homes with autistic children.
Jeffrey Crowder sighed wearily. It had seemed like a good idea, buying Dylan a simple little robot dog. He had thought his son might relate to a programmed toy, since he seldom showed any desire to interact with him or Marge--or anyone else, for that matter. He had even paid extra to get the version that was covered with artificial fur, thinking the tactile sensation might help pique his interest. So far all Dylan haddone was twist it around in his hands, for hours at a time, even after being shown how the little toy dog could bark, move its head and tail and roll on its back. Even when it barked to be petted without prompting, Dylan ignored the sound and continued looking at it from different perspectives. It was impossible to tell what Dylan's thoughts were; he didn't talk much when he was focused that way.