Friday, January 25, 2008

A word on image

On Thursday, I posted a series of pictures from the stills and film I took of Joey during a school visit. I have been really happy about Joey's teachers this year, and his so-far steady progress, especially his academic progress. Joey is happy to be in school. He's learning. It's fabulous.

But as the shadow of summer service begins to rear its ugly head, and some comments swim to mind that were made by familiar folks and strangers alike, it strikes me how much I construct a positive image of Joey and Andy here. I chose the picture where Joey is happily playing with the sequence cards, not the one where he is slamming his fists in frustration, trying to put together the words to narrate the story displayed upon them. I have him happily playing a computer game, not the ten minutes later when he progressed up two levels, and tore the phones off his head in frustration because there were now "too many" choices for the memory game.

I am often told, usually in off-hand ways, that Joey's "just can't be" autistic. He's too sweet. He's too sociable. He's too smart. He makes too much eye contact. He has too many words. He is too interactive. I often wonder if people know how really offensive such remarks, even (especially?) off-hand ones, are?

Yes, I know how very fortunate we are with Joey- that there are children who are far more effected, far less "functional", far more "disabled"- what words to use? Because it seems like anything I pick would make it sound like other people's children are not as precious or beautiful as my Joey. Every person is a miracle, folks. Life itself is a miracle. Having a life entrusted to your care is a fortune beyond reckoning. But back to the point: just because my Joey doesn't look or act the way you think an autistic person should look or act doesn't make his autism any less a part of who he is, any less real and here and now. When I see him trying to interact with other kids, and finding himself unable to do it, and seeing the frustration, the yearning, the interest... what? You didn't think autistic people were interested in interacting with their peers? Think again.

There is so much negative written and posted on the web about autism. Joey is such a bright, sparkling light of joy for us, and that is the part we most want to share. I don't hide Joey's weaknesses. I have written before about meltdowns and whinefests and echolallic perserveration. However, I do try to keep these kinds of incidents from dominating this blog, because they do not dominate Joey. And that is just the way he is.

Don't take my snak!

I left Andy crying at school. He's upset to be left with teachers who don't let him take all morning to chew on his food. I have a very hard time getting Andy to eat. Apparently, snack time was over on Wednesday, and that was that- and you don't take food from Andy, even if he won't eat it.

They did say they had no trouble getting him to sit for snack time- but putting the food away is very hard on him.

Since he wasn't sick, I didn't want to stick around and have him cling to me instead of participating in class. But here's hoping I won't be called to the teacher's office after school again. :P

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Wordless... Thursday?: A Day At School

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A Silent House

Yes, the boys are at school. The laundry is in the washer. The box with teh Christmas tree- the first Chirstmas box- just went up to the attic. The house is... quiet.

Very. Very. Quiet.

No wonder my mom always has the tv going. She probably got so used to us kids running through the house, that the quiet seemed empty.

Now, don't get me wrong. I like quiet. I don't watch a lot of TV on my own, or play lots of music. I like quiet. The soft hum of the washing machine. The whirr of the sonic humidifier. The chirrup of the cat wanting an extra meal. But it is so different than having the boys here.

Hmmm... maybe I'll put on the dvd I made of the boys' fall adventures and get back to cleaning...

Sunday, January 20, 2008


Tomorrow the boys have off school for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Joey's school has been sending around lots of booklets and stuff about Martin Luther King, Jr. and his Dream: specifically, that children of all colors can play together.

I know that's what the words of that speech say: that the color of your skin will no longer matter. But I'd like to think that dream goes far beyond that. I'd like to think that the point was equality- that people would be seen for their strengths and talents and gifts, that they would be considered based on themselves, not on what we see. That the Dream is for an appreciation of true diversity of all kinds, not just a diversity of skin tone.

In other words, I think this literature ought to be talking about diversity, acceptance, and freedom for all people. Not just about what color peoples' skins might be. Even the special ed stuff is all about children of all colors, people of all races. What about accepting people with disabilities? What about actually looking at those differing cultures, not just the skintone? What about accepting people of different ages? Shouldn't this little booklet say "He dreamed of a world where all children could play together" not just "a world where children of all skin colors could play together"?

The here and now for Dr. King was focused on race, and thus his words were focused on race. But I'd like to think his intention went far beyond his moment. The point of the Dream was for people to discover that judging others on superficialities was not appropriate, not useful, and just plain ignorant.

And if it wasn't, well, then here's the new Dream. Cheers.