Patience With That Egg

Filed Under (Acceptance, Adam, autism, Autism and Learning, Communication) by Estee on 05-12-2011

Adam and I went to see Seussical at Young People’s Theatre in Toronto. Adam likes the theatre more than he does movies.

I’ve always refused to stay isolated and Adam doesn’t like to be, either. He likes people and outings and even though we’ve been through ups and downs of anxiety, we tend to overcome our obstacles — our own and the ones that seem outside of us. But as usual, I digress.

Adam was his usual attentive self to the play. There were a series of questions afterwards and the theatre writes them out in the program for parents to work on at home. I also sent the questions to school today. I always wonder why there are not more field trips and plays for autistic children. Thankfully, Adam is going to the library a couple of times a week.

Many people don’t think autistic people understand or “get it,” and that taking them to a play or an outing would be a useless endeavour– one that would require too much effort, or parental fortitude and heartbreak to withstand stares. I’ve never been to Young People’s Theatre when a young person doesn’t make a whoop or two. Adam’s not yet a whooper, he’s more of a giggler. Perhaps because I see some parents of typical children sternly turn their disturbed heads (yes, my perception and interpretation…my bias), I refuse to look around. It’s not that I don’t want to. I’m actually thinking to myself hey, who’s the cool kid having the really great time!

Adam’s eyes were glued. His grin was wide, his eyes beaming. It feels so good to watch him enjoying himself. Since he’s been young, even though he has real challenges with expressive communication, he’s given me fantastic glimpses into his perception and understanding. His very attention to the play was proof- positive. Today he wrote me an email (the school lets him email me). One of his teachers asked him what he did on the weekend, not knowing the play at all. Adam replied by typing “elephant sat egg.” Horton was the guardian of the egg. He would not leave the egg or abandon the Whos on that little speck of dust in this mix of Dr. Seuss stories, no matter how awful and skeptcial the Wickersham brothers and other townspeople are to him. He endures the abuse, the naysayers, the people who call him a chump.

I know I have to keep working with others to show how to get more typed communication out of Adam and not give up. At the same time, I’m also thrilled that people are trying and doing. I know I need more patience. I worry and wonder how many hours in the day autistic kids are working on labels, mands and putting together Mr. Potato Head. Even though practice is always essential, and the goals are about attention and things other than the label or putting together a head, the work it takes to collect the expressive communication is big and we need to focus more on exposing autistic kids to interesting material, even when we don’t get immediate reward of a child’s recognition. I think our kids should be asked more complicated questions and working on really interesting age appropriate material. Of course, there’s also the fact that the stuff autistic kids are interested in can seem boring or useless to the rest of us. We need to learn how to nurture these interests. Also beware of objects that autistic children become attached to. Clinginess to baby books doesn’t mean an autistic child doesn’t want to read chapter books. I am reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid to Adam (he giggles), and have no idea yet what he’s getting from it. Although I do know, as but one example, that when we get wild weather, he’ll reach and start reading a book for teens on weather systems. The baby books are a form of familiar for Adam. He uses them to comfort himself and to create order in a world that can often be overwhelming. They don’t indicate what he’s also interested in, or what he’s capable of.

Readiness is essential but there can also be many opinions on what makes an autistic person “ready.” Is it the ability to sit still, act normal, attend for long periods of time? If so, an autistic person may never be deemed totally “ready.” If these are some of the prerequisites to “readiness,” how far held back is the autistic person who’s otherwise sopping up so much in the environment? Adam got his musical notation, to his music teacher’s surprise, very quickly. Learning to “attend” is a social “norm” imposed to people who find that really challenging. It’s not that I don’t think Adam shouldn’t learn that, but it’s not the only thing he needs to learn. Adam needs to learn things that interest him, and like other children, we don’t know what interests our children unless they get exposed to things. His movement and activity is likely the way he learns best, and despite my repetition in life and here on the blog, he is often treated like that round peg being squeezed into a square hole, no matter what my beliefs.

Help, hello. Is anyone there? I’m trying to write with the greatest of care. As I convey ideas about Adam over and over, we need to settle him down safe, on a soft bed of clover.

I guess you can say I’m holding on to this egg.

Comments:

Post a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

ads
ads
ads
ads

About Me


ESTÉE KLAR

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.