This chapter begins with a short story about a white dove (symbolism of beauty and peace-something/someone who seems to have it all) being lost. The white dove approaches a black crow and asks where a particular path goes because they are searching for the path to happiness. The black crow responds that all paths are really one connected path-possibly indicating that everyone in this world is on the same search to happiness. I believe Naoki included this short story as a reminder that everyone in this world is on the same path and ultimately just wants to achieve happiness.
The questions for this chapter were very relevant to students that I work with and I found each answer to be interesting. I found Naoki’s answer about needing a visual schedule to be particularly surprising…
Why do you need cues and prompts?
Naoki says that people with autism are sometimes unable to move to their next action without a verbal prompt. For example, even after someone with autism requests a glass of apple juice they are unable to actually drink it until they are provided with a verbal prompt. Naoki says that his brain is wired to move from one action to another only when provided with prompts. He compares his brain needing prompts like people need a green light while driving to “go”.
Why can you never sit still?
“I’m always on the lookout for an exit. But even though I’m forever wanting to be someplace else, I never can actually find my way there.” Naoki also says that he is more relaxed when he is in a state of motion as opposed to sitting still.
Do you need visual schedules? * I found this response most surprising
Short answer-Naoki says no! He says that visual schedules are too restricting and stress him out about where he needs to be and when. Naoki suggests talking through the day’s plans with him instead of giving him a visual schedule. He suggests talking through the fact there may be changes to this routine as well. Naoki says that it is often misunderstood that people with autism do not understand just by listening. I found this statement significant because I honestly find myself doing the same. I have assumed with certain student’s that they require visuals to really understand my message or intent. On the other hand, I am often surprised when one of my student’s picks up on something that I said when I really didn’t’ think they were listening. My students are often looking away or engaged in another activity as I speak and I need to remind myself that they are taking in more than I may realize. I also think that this response about visual schedules may be specific to Naoki. Obviously everyone with autism is different and I have definitely seen the benefits of visual schedules as opposed to verbal reasoning and explanations.
What causes panic attacks and meltdowns?
Naoki says many things may cause them and sometimes they are just unavoidable even with an ideal environment. Naoki suggests letting the panic attack (screaming and yelling) just happen and stay close by to ensure everyone is safe. –I think that this response is difficult to accept when working in a school setting because one student’s meltdown often triggers another student and it turns into a domino effect!
What are your thoughts on autism itself? * I found this answer to be very deep and philosophical
Naoki mentions all of the turmoil and crisis in this world today and suggests that people with autism are here as a reminder of “what truly matters for the Earth”.
–Marie Fisher, SLP at Newburg, Atherton, and JCTMS