Friday, September 4, 2009

On Autism

Years ago, at the beginning of my special ed degree sometime in sophomore year, I got very upset reading websites of autistic people who were insistent that they wanted everyone to leave their autism alone, be called autistic instead of "having autism" and were generally bitter towards people, special ed teachers especially. So I emailed my dad frantically, thinking I was doing everything wrong, even though I thought I was doing it the right way with my accommodations and modifications and person first language. This was his response (and it was wonderful, especially coming from someone with only third hand knowledge of autism):

Em,
You are not studying to put square pegs in round holes. Use a different analogy. Think of the world as the block that contains the round hole. This hole works for many kids. That doesn't mean that that's the only portal into the world. You are looking for another way to engage the autistic child with the world. It may be a hole of another shape that no one sees because the round hole worked fine for most kids. It may be another part of the block that is more malleable
and will adapt to different shaped pegs. In severe cases maybe engagement isn't possible so you look for ways to touch the block without entering into it giving you contact without engagement. Maybe you try to change the world to accept the square peg. These are ways to find the optimum fit for each child. This is a noble goal and a noble profession (and a good mission!).

1 comment:

Gina said...

Coolest.

Dad.

EVER.