In this chapter Naoki refers to a story of a girl who danced for 7 days straight. She danced and danced, and bore the exhaustion that it placed upon her. With the intent of continuing to dance, on the 8th day she stopped dancing after being asked by a handsome young man, because she had then found a reason to stop. With this chapter, I thought about the repetitive things that I see my students with autism do day to day, and considered that we, as educators, are the “handsome young man” that these students are seeking to help them stop their repetitive movements from which they find so much comfort.
Q37 asked the question “Why do you flap your hands and fingers in front of your face?” He explains that flapping and waving his hands in front of his face helps the light enter his eye more pleasantly. Without the filter he states that presents as “needles” into the eye. He knows the light presents so many different benefits and is necessary and this is how he copes.
Q38 asked the question: “Why do you ling up your toy cars and blocks” He explains that lining up things is fun to him! He simply likes to sequence things and see how they line up. He also enjoys puzzles for much of the same reasons.
Q39 asked the question: “Why do you like being in the water” He explains he is free and happy. There are no people hassling them in the water. This is a type of freedom that people with autism only feel in the water, due to the high demands and stimulation they receive from day to day.
Q40 asked the question: “Do you like commercials on TV?” Naoki explains they he likes the comfort in what he has seen and heard before, but does not necessarily like the one that he are novel or he is unfamiliar with.
Q41 asked the question: “What kind of TV programs do you enjoy” He explains that he enjoys TV programs that are intended for younger kids. It is not the childishness he enjoys of the program, it is simply the straightforward stories that makes it easy to guess what is going to happen next. These programs are easier to watch and keep him relaxed. He feels a sense of safety and relief.
Q42 asked the question: “Why do you memorize train timetables and calendars”. Naoki explains that he memorize these things because it is fun! Numbers are concrete, fixed, unchanging and something that he can rely on. He views numbers as simple, clear, and easy to understand. He finds himself always wondering if he is “perceiving” things the right way and with numbers there is no questions!
Personally, these questions were beneficial for me to read. I work with the preschool self-contained population, and see a large number of children with autism. Some of the behaviors and tendencies he speaks to, I find myself almost resenting because I feel as if it is a wall I am continuously trying to break down so we can address their specific language goals. I find myself continually managing the stemming and obsession with numbers multiple times a day. The one part in particular that stood out to me was that he wanted to be able to stop these repetitive movements, and was seeking out something to help him stop. I often times consider it to be the opposite. I find myself being the one who wants them to “stop” the repetitive movements and maybe I am overthinking it all? Maybe what I need to be trying is much simpler than what I am doing every day. You know the sessions, where you feel like you have exhausted every “trick in your bag for the last 30 minutes and feel like you accomplished absolutely nothing? Maybe I am approaching it all wrong. Maybe I need to slow down and think more basic, more concrete, go with what they feel comfort in vs. trying to find something else they may prefer…
Lindsay Manis, Churchill Park Pre-School