“Touch”: Understanding The Messages That Connect Us

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I have watched this show since the pilot episode and have found it to be profound in both concept and delivery.  For those not familiar with it Touch is the story of a widowed father caring for his non-verbal Autistic son.  It is novel in that the son Jake, non-verbal in the show, is the show’s narrator and voice of reason.  His actions drive the story lines, as his father struggles to understand his cues.  In a sense, the character ‘Jake’ embodies both stereotypes of the Autistic child: the boy within his own world, and the savant.  The message of the show, more than the portrayal of an Autistic child, is clearly the highlight of the series.  The messages of being interconnected, of seeing patterns of behavior and language, and the essential need to be understood are central themes to this series.  

As the father of an Autistic child watching this show, I ask myself constantly whether I would be able to pick upon my son’s non-verbal cues and act on them, even if they did not make the slightest bit of sense to me.  I would like to think I would, but a little voice inside would be be shouting, “What??  You want me to do what?  You’ve got to be kidding me!”  I do know however, that like the father in the show, I would not stop trying to understand his needs, even when those needs are difficult to discern.  That aspect is a universal characteristic of families on the Spectrum: we never stop trying to understand our children, no matter how tired we are, and no matter what obstacles are lain in our path.

Here are some of the sage words of Jake Bohm, the show’s narrator:


“Patterns are hidden in plain sight, you just have to know where to look. Things most people see as chaos actually follows subtle laws of behaviour; galaxies, plants, sea shells… The patterns never lie but only some of us can see how the pieces fit together. Seven billion, eighty million and 360 of us live on this tiny planet. This is the story of some of those people. The ratio is always the same 1 to 1.618 over and over again. Today we’ll send over 300 billion e-mails…19 billion text messages.  Yet we’ll still feel alone.”

“7 billion people on a tiny planet, suspended in the vastness of space, all alone. How we make sense of that is the great mystery of all of our existence. Maybe it’s being alone in the universe that holds us all together, keeps us needing each other in the smallest of ways, creating a quantum entanglement of you, of me, of us. And if that’s really true, then we live in a world where anything is possible.”

“The average person will say 2250 words to 7.4 other individuals. Will these words be used to hurt or to heal?”

“There’s an ancient Chinese myth about the red thread of fate. It says that the Gods had a red thread around every one of our ankles and attached it to all the people who’s lives we’re destined to touch. This thread may stretch or tangle but it will never break. ”

“Human beings are hard-wired with the impulses to share our ideas and the desire to know we’ve been heard. It’s all part of our need of community. That’s why we’re constantly sending out signals and signs. It’s why we look for them from other people. We’re always waiting for messages; hoping for a connection. And if we haven’t received a message, it doesn’t always mean it hasn’t been sent to us. Sometimes, it means we haven’t been listening hard enough. In spite of all our communication technology, no invention is as effective as the sound of the human voice. When we hear the human voice, we instinctively want to listen in the hopes of understanding it. Even when the speaker is searching for the right words to say. Even when all we hear is yelling or crying or singing. That’s because the human voice resonates differently from anything else in the world. That’s why we can hear a singer’s voice over the sound of a full orchestra. We will always hear that singer no matter what else surrounds it…”

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