One Tough Interview


As a journalist, I’ve met and interviewed hundreds of people. A good interview flows like a conversation, and because I love talking to people and hearing their stories, the interview is often my favorite part of being a writer.

Some interviews are nerve-wracking. Like the time I flew in a private plane while interviewing a young pilot, even though I’m terrified of flying. Some are heart-wrenching, like the time I sat with a family that just lost their 16-year-old daughter in a car accident. Some are great fun. Like the time I went whitewater rafting and rappelling on a singles trip (I was also single at the time).

Then there were the difficult interviews: mysterious fires, political controversies and allegations of abuse, just to name a few.

But hands down, the most difficult “interview” is the one I periodically try to have with Evan. I so desperately want to understand his way of thinking. I want to see the world through his eye and know what makes him tick. I’ve written about this before and I think about it a lot because I crave insight into what makes this complicated little boy the person that he is.

On countless occasions I try to talk to him to get a better understanding of who he is, but it’s hard. Of course it’s hard to get any nine-year-old kid to really talk about his thoughts or feelings, but with Evan it’s different. I feel fortunate that he is verbal, yet there is so much he can’t articulate. That doesn’t mean I stop trying.

The other day I pulled out my laptop and sat down for a formal interview with Evan.

Me: What are some of your favorite things?

Evan: I like iPads and lights and basements, unless they have spider webs.

Me: Why?

Evan: Because spider webs scare me. I like lights because they are so bright.

Me: Why do iPads make you happy?

Evan: Because you can watch videos and play games.

Me: Evan, I’ve seen you use those videos to help you not be scared of things. How does that work?

Evan: Good.

Me: No, how does watching a video help you to not be scared of something like going to a theater?

Evan: It’s because I can see the stage and I know it’s very bright.

Me: But you don’t like the moon because you’ve said it’s too bright.

Evan: I love it now. I don’t know why I used to be afraid of it.

Me: What do you want to be when you grow up?

Evan: When I grow up I want to be a lighting designer which controls lights at theaters.

Me: What are some of the things you hate?

Evan: I hate the dark, sirens and fire. I also hate when people say “Einstein,” “appreciate,” “that’s the way,” “perhaps” ”Lucy” and “people,” too.

Me: Why do you hate certain words?

Evan: I don’t know.

Me: How come it’s ok for you to say the words you hate but you don’t like it when other say those words?

Evan: I don’t know.

Me: Do you know what autism is?

Evan: No

Me: Do you want to know?

Evan: No

Me: What makes you special?

Evan: I don’t know.

Me: Do you want to know?


Me: “You’re smart, you’re funny and fun, you have a great memory, you see things in ways that nobody does and you teach people every day without even knowing it.”

Evan: “Stop saying ‘people.’ How many more questions?”

Me: What makes you happy?

Evan: My friend Logan and lights. And you, because you’re nice.

Me: Do you know any jokes?

Evan:    Knock, knock

Me:        Who’s there?

Evan:     Mom

Me:        Mom who?

Evan:     Mom breaks the light.

Me: What’s the best thing that’s ever happened to you?

Evan: Not being in the dark.

Me: Tell me something about you I don’t know.

Evan: I broke lights one time.

Me: What was your favorite vacation?

Evan: The Smoky Mountains.

Me: “You haven’t been there yet.”

Evan: “When are you done?”

Me: “We can be done now.”

Evan: “Can I have the iPad?”



  1. Dorene Finer

    Another wonderful blog. This “interview” gave me another opportunity to learn more about autism and more importantly my grandson Evan.

  2. Steph

    The feeling is mutual. Evan makes Logan happy, too!


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