Over the last week or so, in the blogs and facebook pages I read, I’ve come across comments regarding autism, kids, and imagination – usually concerning the lack of.
I’ve also run into the comments by frustrated parents regarding contradictory assessment statements that are frankly mind boggling. My “favorite” was from a mom whose child was being assessed. The child was pretending that a puzzle piece was a plane before putting it into the puzzle (imaginative play) – but the assessor said that this was a negative thing because the boy was “not using the toy for it’s intended purpose.” I believe the assessor made a comment later about the boy’s lack of imaginative play skills in a different assessment situation.
What. The. F…?
I sincerely hope that up & coming professionals, who have the opportunity to read blogs and books by autistic people, will take this information into account and somehow deal with the bass-ackwardness of situations like the one above. Not seeing imaginative play for what it is because it’s happening at the “wrong” time, or not happening at the “right” time in the assessment is incredibly short-sighted, while at the same time carries long-term consequences.
Changing the rules to fit perceptions, or being closed off to information because it doesn’t fit perceptions, is seriously harmful.
In my own personal experience with my son (PDD-NOS), I can honestly say that this “fact” regarding autistic people “lacking imagination/imaginative play skills” is BS, or as Diary of a Mom would say, “#noimaginationmy@$$”.
When my son was six, he made me this (see picture). Yes, it’s just paperclips. And of course, as a mom, I was happy to get this gift regardless of the fact that it’s “just” paperclips. But then he told me what it was – you see, the top, large paperclip is ME. The bottom, little paperclip is MY SON. The bottom paperclip swings from the big one, like it’s being rocked. To remind me of when my son was a baby and I rocked him.
My 6 year old, AUTISTIC (i.e. “lacking imagination”) son made this creation, and this story, for me. To remind me of our love.
So professionals, please re-assess your assessments and your perceptions. Our kids are outside the box. They will not fit in the boxes you’ve created. This does not make them broken, this does not make them wrong. It makes them different. Take that into account so we can make things better for them, and for autistic people of all ages.
And for a little bit of extra fun, here’s a great tongue-in-cheek video created by an autistic adult – you know, one of those people “without imagination” <sarcasm>.