When You’re Not Sure, Try It On Anyway

Filed Under (Development) by Estee on 15-01-2009

Adam has been hanging out with friends. He has three friends now that he hangs out with on weekends. It’s simply delightful for me to watch him take the hands of his patient little friends (shows that kids CAN be patient, loving and kind), and lead them around to what he wants to play because he can’t always say it. We didn’t use RDI or facilitated play groups, by the way, to achieve this skill. It doesn’t mean we didn’t try those things long ago. We did. We just didn’t keep those “methods” up. Adam has learned by being engaged with people while being respected when he needs a break from them. He observes.

I was thinking about Adam and finding what he loves. We tried a few things over the years — movies — those were difficult to sit through. I can name three movies he did sit through from start to finish:

Charlotte’s Web
Happy Feet

Movies are harder than believe it or not, theatre. Adam will sit glued to the theatre. So much so, I’ve been able to take him to major productions. He loves to enact too. It makes me think it’s time for a drama class. He watches videos and he tries so hard to say (he has verbal difficulty) what the characters say. He tries to imitate what they do (he has had motor planning difficulty which is improving significantly). Adam tries so hard and this is his way. So it puzzles me when parents of autistic children take away videos because they believe their children are “stimming” over them. When I watch Adam, the provide some repetitive comfort from an over-stimulating day AND he is desperately trying to learn.

As I think about what autistic adults have told me — using puppets (Adam loves puppets) or “Pretending to be Normal,” it reminds me of how we all have to try personas on to find our own. It takes so much effort and I respect Adam’s. Drama is a really healthy way to explore feelings and one’s SELF. It’s what I believe is a safe haven for Adam to explore himself and probably the most healthy and accepting way of developing one’s Self overall.

As we’ve grown into adults, don’t we all have stories of pretending to be something that we are not? By trying certain things that may not feel natural at first, we come back to being who we are meant to be.

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About Me


I’m a PhD candidate at York University, Critical Disability Studies, with a multi-disciplinary background in the arts as a curator and writer. I am the Founder of The Autism Acceptance Project (www.taaproject.com), and an enamoured mother of my only son who lives with the autism label. I like to write about our journey, critical issues regarding autism in the area of human rights, law, and social justice, as well as reflexive practices in (auto)ethnographic writing about autism.