Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Living The Penguin Life

Some time ago, Mom-NOS came up with the perfect metaphor for autistic kids in the neurotypical world.

Here, I present a lame imitation, because I have been watching A Wish For Wings That Work, and it so fits our world.

We live in a duck world. The world is full of ducks- versatile creatures who swim, dive, and fly. They can soar magnificently through the skies, then plunge into the depths. Nobody worries about the waddling, because hey, everybody waddles. So its cool.

My kid is a penguin.

The difference between ducks and penguins is not so great as between toasters in hair dryers. You would never mistake a hair dryer for a toaster. But with ducks and penguins, they are both birds. It might take a minute to point out differences. After all, they both waddle. They both swim. They both have feathers. They are both birds.

At the same time, a penguin is not a duck. Penguins waddle, but they walk upright. They swim, but instead of just kicking with their feet, they use their wings as well. Penguins are excellent swimmers, and they get the waddling thing done in their own way.

But they cannot fly.

Penguins living in a duck world spend their lives being ridiculed and pushed about not being able to fly. After all, they are birds, they have feathers, why can't they fly? Teachers push them to fly. Peers tease them about not being able to fly. There is an obsession with flight in their families, because after all, this is a world where birds fly!

Penguins cannot fly. They are not made to fly. They're penguins, not ducks. They can swim far better than ducks, but that is ignored by ducks in a duck world.

What is great about A Wish For Wings That Work is it shows us that it is important to have a variety of talents and gifts in the world. A duck and ice water don't get along, but penguins swim beautifully in it. We need penguins. Just in case Santa falls into an icy pond and needs to be rescued.

Another interesting sideline is how Opus treats Bill throughout the film. The rejection of others who are disabled by people with their own disabilities is something we are noticing more and more. On the surface, Bill has no talents to share. But look closer at the clips. Bill has loyalty, he has the brains to know who can help. He may smell of brussel sprouts, but he is not useless. He's trying to live in a duck world, too.

And best of all, Opus does fly at the end. With some help and support, some appreciation for the talents of others and support for their challenges, we can all live in a duck world. Or perhaps, just the world.


Stimey said...

Oh mah gah, there is a Bloom County movie that I was not aware of?! You'll excuse me while I run to the internet to find a copy.

Also, I like your analogy. It's hard when your penguin is similar enough to the duck that he is given duck expectations. But there are things penguins just can't do.

I think Jack is going to like Bill the Cat. I'm going to have to go find all my Bloom County comics in the basement. Seriously, I'm kinda a big fan.

lynnes said...

This metaphor really works for me. We're in a position now where G has made so much progress that he appears to bystanders to be a brat rather than disabled, so we're exposed to more rolling eyes and private comments we're meant to overhear. He's a penguin in a community of Magpie Ducks.

Joeymom said...

I SO miss Bloom County. Polticis today would be SO much more fun.

VioletYoshi said...

I'm sure the Penguins of Madagascar would love your post, considering every once in awhile they are taunted by enemies for being "flightless birds".