Before the TASH Conference, I was working this an idea to create a sort of People Map for H, so that he could be a bit more ready for the peopleing and could begin ahead of time to see faces of people he will meet and match them and connect them to things he knows about them as my online friends.
I was thinking this would be a way to frame it and support him with the visuals for people and a little bit of familiarity ahead of time about what is important for them… and also it would let me sit back and not be the over-prompting anxious mom from hell (which is very not good for anyone).
And then I thought more about the people map and decided to explore making Magic the Gathering cards for each of these people, because he is familiar with the game and I wanted to match the support to be useful for H to help him navigate the conference… and I thought it would be fun (and infinitely cooler).
My intent was also to use this to help him be aware and frame his response in context. I also thought it would be a wonderful way to connect our next generation… and help them to build a sense of community – in a way that builds understanding and acceptance for each other that could be quite powerful.
So I ended up making a set of 24 cards for H (and a whole bunch of other people) and I must thank my friends so so much for their enthusiasm (Kassiane and Emily) and their cutting skills (Corbett ♥) and for being so supportive and open to my wild ideas – I appreciate your trust and encouragement.
And – as I was trying to maintain my momentum on this little project, I was also working to front-load H with information about TASH. I knew he would be more comfortable if he had information about where we were staying and with whom, and who he would be meeting, and more. This is safety for him. It is calming. We can make a situation familiar before we encounter it, and when H can focus on understanding the needs and differences of others – beyond himself – this is partnered with a certain calming effect as well.
So we had been talking… a lot!
One of the things we discussed was that some people he would meet might communicate differently. H seemed to take this in stride and I was left wondering at how easily he accepts this (though perhaps admiring is a more accurate word).
We were in the car when we discussed this part, so I couldn’t see his face, but I could imagine a raised eyebrow that I was making such a big deal out of something so inconsequential.
Oh… but I love his attitude.
Then our conversation shifted to how people are sometimes judged by others by their ability to communicate with spoken words, and we moved to the notion of presuming competence, and his interest was noticeably piqued:
Is that why Henry [Frost] had to fight to go to school? Because his words are not spoken??
He knew that Henry had fought for this right – but until this moment, H hadn’t fully understood why…
That is so ableist!
And that ^ THAT RIGHT THERE ^ was the first time I have heard H use the word ableist.
This comes so naturally – effortlessly!
My Autistic son’s attitude of acceptance is one of the spectacular things he has in common with my Neurodivergent friends.
And it makes my heart sing!!
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 (2014)