Friday, April 30, 2010


As the mornings get ever so slightly chilly, it's time for Dreamer to wear for the first time his Senior jersey.

Each year, the school seniors are allowed to wear a personalised jersey instead of the regular school jumper. It's a rugby jersey, the number on the back representing their graduation year, and each student gets to choose what to have printed in the 'player name' area.

Most students have their name, or nickname, and raps are given for the level of cleverness or witticism of their chosen words.

I wonder what raps Dreamer will get for his choice, or if more than a couple of his classmates will even begin to understand. He had 20 letters to use on his jersey, and he chose just one word to represent who he is.

His jersey says UNCERTAINTY.

When the jersey arrived, I asked him why he chose that word.
He told me about the Uncertainty principle. The boy loves his physics! And he explained that life was uncertain, and that he was uncertain most of the time, and that it was a word that worked on many levels.

I can only marvel at the insight of this sixteen year old.
I hope he wears his jersey proudly.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Culture of Eye Contact

In a world of blind people, you  speak a person's name to get their attention and let them know that you are talking to them. Nuances of voice are important. Eye contact is not, and neither is facial expression.

In a world of deaf people, you turn your face directly to them, so they can read your lips and facial expression, and possibly attract their attention using touch.

In aboriginal culture, speaking with eyes downcast, and not looking directly at the speaker is a mark of respect.

Do autistic people really need to be trained to 'look at my eyes'?
Is there any reason why it should be unacceptable for an autistic person to listen and speak with their face averted?
Because it is the currently accepted way in the 'real world'? Because it makes other people feel more comfortable?

Why shouldn't the rest of the world just get used to a bit of neurodiversity?
Diversity is all too hard. Homogenous is easy - everybody the same.

Speedy is not ASD. His brain wiring, however, means that translating audio (right brain) into language (left brain) ain't easy - he can listen, and he can look, but both at the same time means neither works well.

OK. So real-life implications?

How often have you heard teachers and parents say "Look at me while I'm speaking to you?" And why? Because, of course, if you are not looking at the speaker, then you must not be listening.
An assumption.

Speedy needs to avert his eyes, to concentrate on what he is hearing.

If Speedy is reading or writing, he has to switch off his ears.
The teacher then stands at the front of the classroom, and says "Alright children, finish up now, and get out your maths books".
And Speedy is in trouble for ignoring the teacher, and not following directions.

What a troublemaker - he deliberately ignores the teacher when he's being spoken to, and doesn't follow directions. Off to behaviour management classes with him.

Maybe if he wore dark glasses and carried a white cane?


Uneventful. Morning.
Speedy is ready for school, and prowling the house.
"Why am I always late for school because of him?"
Dreamer sits in front of a bowl of weetbix while reading manga. Four reminders from me.
"Put the manga down and eat please".
Another few from Speedy.
Not quite as polite.

Curly is half-ready, and follows me around the house nagging me to pay for a new game download that he discovered yesterday. He needs his mother. He needs his mother's paypal password. He won't take 'later' for an answer, and starts whining.
Was it only last week I was suffering the same nagging, about the previous latest, greatest, new game?
Run away to the laundry and fill the machine with clothes. Back upstairs, and Dreamer is sniffing scented highlighter pens.
Take a deep breath and practice my morning mantra.
"Breakfast, teeth, get dressed."
First part finally accomplished, however the few metres from kitchen to bathroom proved to be filled with distractions.
"K. One more pen"
 Threaten Curly - any hat/lunchbox/musical instrument left at school today will incur a complete monitor ban until such time as the offending item arrives in our house. I hope that the threat is frightening enough. His poor memory amazingly seems to affect only the (in his opinion) unimportant, unlike Dreamer, who once forgot to get dressed for his own birthday party.

Have I forgotten to eat breakfast?