Posted By Courtenay Bell on February 1, 2012
When Dan and Janet approached Melissa and me about potentially teaching a puppet class, I was excited and apprehensive at once.
“What if they get bored?”
“How will we get them to be expressive without unintentionally directing them into something they are not?”
This last question was the most daunting. I have been teaching for five years and inevitably students will copy exactly what you do in hopes of pleasing you. I will admit now, however, this should have been the last thing on my mind. From day one all four young adults have come to Saturday mornings engaged, motivated and most of all true to themselves.
In being so individually self-expressive, we have all learned incredible things about each person. Be it an affinity for Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s musicals, a childhood love of Disney films or Super Mario Bros., and hilarious social commentary; these young aspies are passionate, creative and expressive.
After revealing these facts about themselves something more amazing happened than sewing, gluing, or bedazzling; genuine social interaction that was unprompted, naturally rhythmic and challenging for even a cunning linguist like me!
In these lunch time conversations they have beautifully navigated topics from pop culture references, Aspergers humor, and social interpretation, critical thinking about literature, all the way to cartoon Batman versus live action Batman.
(Holey social diversity, Batman!)
As a person who grew up with Aspergers and experienced so many awkward lunch conversations that left me confused, hurt and withdrawn, seeing this blooming of social skills brings tears to my eyes, and a hope in my heart that more people like these students and me can have an Autistry experience just once and feel what it’s like to be understood, heard and appreciated for our uniqueness.