We live close to Vancouver in the beautiful Fraser Valley of British Columbia! It is lush and green and buzzing with life! Right now, however, we are inundated with mosquitoes after a particularly treacherous spring thaw and lots of flooding of the local area. All that water – combined with years-dormant mosquito eggs… and yikes!
It is relevant to note here that I hate the feeling of bug spray – it is a sensory overwhelm – and H feels the same way. So we’ve been stuck inside and avoiding the yard for a couple of days. I’ve been writing up a storm – and H… well, he’s doing his thing…
Ahh… Self-directed learning!
Last week it was piranhas. H knows an impressive amount of information about piranhas. Sometimes I ask him how he knows so much about something. His answer is invariably, “I researched it!”
Today H declared, “I’m going to learn more about the Gorgons!” After a few minutes at his computer, “Hmmmm… The Greek word ‘Gorgos‘ means dreadful.”
H: “Medusa’s sisters were immortal – but she was not. She was slain by the demigod Perseus!” Budding researcher! Yay!!
45 minutes later…
“Medusa wasn’t always a monster – she was once a human woman. She was raped by Poseidon in Athena’s temple – but it is not like she let him do it. He is the one who should have been punished… but he is a great mighty God… so you know!”
I talked to H about this – the first time I have ever heard him refer to the word ‘rape’. I wasn’t sure how to react – and was a bit caught off guard so I asked a couple of questions and we discussed the concept and what mutual consent meant. He was well ahead of me though and confirmed that he understands that this is sexual interaction ‘against the will.‘
And he goes on to tell me…
“Mom.. I have heard the phrase: With great power comes great responsibility – but with that head – it’s CHAOS!”
Now he is learning more about Perseus – Son of Zeus and slayer of Medusa.
This shifts to the examination the constellation Perseus and its link to the eye that he stole from the three witches.
Then:“He [Perseus] has the sword of Zeus and the shield of Athena and the helmet of Hades.”
“The shield that Perseus was given has a reflective surface! That is important!“
H has delved into a variety of sites to learn about his topic of choice this afternoon: one of his favourites for the day was history.com.
“Cool – the Parthenon is real – this is not a set! It is in Athens… in Greece!” I love his excitement about learning new things!
His next move was a lateral one: the series “Storyteller” by Jim Henson. There are two different parts to this series – one is European Folk Tales(1988) – the other is Greek Mythology(1990). We have watched them all – and they are delightful – but I suggest you preview them as some are rather dark and I think perhaps would be frightening to little minds. Not so for my boy H however.
So apparently on the plan for today’s viewing was a re-watching of Perseus and the Gorgon – so he could view another version of the tale of Medusa and compare the stories. He was definitely inventorying the similarities and differences.
Finally, he slipped into viewing a second episode of Storyteller – this time about Daedalus and Icarus.
I don’t often get a chance to sit back and observe my son’s process and methods for learning more about his interests with such attention to detail. I am impressed with his ability to navigate and find interesting sources, to compare and contrast views and perspectives, and synthesize information. It impresses me that he can entertain himself on the computer so purposefully. That is amazing to see.
I guess I am almost grudgingly grateful to the mosquitoes… well… almost… but no – not quite!
30 Days of Autism is a project designed to promote social understanding and offer a glimpse into the perspectives of those whose lives are touched by Autism.
© Leah Kelley, Thirty Days of Autism, (2012)