I’m always startled when Coco uses the word autistic. She uses it as a noun. She says “I am an autistic.” We (her dad and I) have always been careful to use the positive and politically correct language regarding her disability. She is a person who has autism – the emphasis on her being a person first, before her disorder. Really, we don’t even use the word autism that much. It has never felt like a clear fit for her. She has been diagnosed with many different challenges over the years. Some feel appropriate and some don’t. We’ve always felt most comfortable saying she is a child with special needs or a child with a disability (particularly when we’re in need of assistance or accommodations for her). She calls herself an autistic without hesitation or qualification. It’s how she identifies herself and clearly it’s a label she feels comfortable with. It’s her word and I surely am not going to tell her how to use it. It’s also a little startling to me how easily she generalizes about the autistic experience. She speaks for other autistics, although as far as I know her communication with other autistic people has been pretty limited. I have no way of knowing if her observations of the autistic experience are relevant or accurate or not, but I admire her conviction in speaking for her peeps.
We had a couple of little breakthroughs this week. Coco is now answering multiple choice questions on the iPad. This wouldn’t mean much to us except we hope we can use it as evidence for school officials of her learning and ability to read and comprehend. They are not quite ready to embrace RPM. She has also started punctuating! Yay! I taped a period sign to the alphabet board and she used it! But our best breakthrough this week is posted below. Coco wrote her first essay. I brought home a copy of “Junior Scholastic,” the kids’ news magazine that came out this week. When I described the different stories we could read together she said “EACH AND EVERY STORY SOUNDS GOOD.” I wish all my students were this eager to learn. We decided on a story about Mars and the possibility of human colonies there in the future. I asked Coco if she wanted to try writing an essay and she said “YES.” I gave her a question to answer – “Would you want to travel to Mars?” Here’s what she answered…
BEING AN ASTRONAUT IS NOT ABOUT DOING EXCITING THINGS. ITS ABOUT FURTHERING SCIENTIFIC TRAINING. I WOULD OPT TO GO TO MARS TO LET SCIENTISTS LEARN HOW THE CONDITIONS THERE AFFECT AUTISTICS. I THINK THAT THERE ARE WAYS THAT SPACE MIGHT HELP WITH SYMPTOMS OF AUTISM. WEIGHTLESSNESS WOULD GIVE ME USE OF THE SYSTEM I STRUGGLE WITH THE MOST THE VESTIBULAR. I THINK THAT SPACE WOULD SERVE AUTISTICS WELL BECAUSE IN SPACE THERE ARE TOO MANY STARS TO RUN OUT OF THINGS TO COUNT. COUNTING IS SOMETHING THAT AUTISTICS DO CONSTANTLY. SPACE IS THE NEW FRONTIER. IN SPACE THERE IS NO DISCRIMINATION. THE PEOPLE WHO GO TO SPACE WILL HAVE A CHANCE TO MAKE A NEW SOCIETY. I THINK THE NEW SOCIETY COULD BE FREE FROM RACISM AND PREJUDICE AGAINST PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES. I WANT A CHANCE TO BE PART OF THAT SOCIETY.
You said “little breakthroughs”??? This is unbelievable. She is brilliant
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