From 10 Autism Facts Everyone should know by Kit Autie
"Nonverbal" people still communicate.
The word 'nonverbal' or 'nonspeaking' brings a lot of stereotypes with it. Most of them are wrong. Nonspeaking does not mean 'doesn't understand speech'. People can be nonspeaking and intelligent. People can use technology to communicate and be independent adults. AAC (alternative and augmentative communication) is just as valid and important as spoken words. For far too long, nonspeaking people have been marginalized and ignored. It's absolutely not okay.
I saw this on a list on Facebook the other day. This particular fact made me tear up a little bit. So many people, at so many different times over the past 20 years, have treated Travis as if he is less human. As if they equate speech with intelligence and humanity. When Travis used to ride in horse shows everyone said he was the best rider, including all the other parents. But the blue ribbons always went to the kids who were so verbally excited to get them. Travis was just happy to be riding. Still, as a mom I was bummed. Not because I expected him to be the best but because it seemed even in that environment (a therapeutic riding show) his lack of speech made him less in people's eyes.
I fight against that sort of thing every day. And not just for Travis. I feel that everyone should be treated like they matter. Not everyone has the same abilities, but that doesn't mean they are less. I have been doing a ridiculous amount of professional development at school the last couple of weeks. We will have kids soon, just virtually for the first week, and then grade by grade each following week they will come into the building in their cohorts. It will be weird. We are going to learn to roll with it if we don't know how already. I'm good at that. I can probably teach that. I taught Travis. He is incredibly adaptable. Anyway, one of my favorite things I got out of my extensive training the past couple of weeks was a talk from a guy whose name I don't remember (even though I loved it so much I watched it twice). His basic idea was kids do well if they can. Which means if they are not doing well, as educators, we need to find out why. What is standing in their way? Did they miss breakfast? Did they not sleep? Are they worried about something? I love this philosophy and I really hope that all the staff saw that video. It was not strictly required, so probably not. But I have always found that the meanest, laziest looking kids often will work their butts off if they feel valued. If you show them they matter to you, that you care because you choose to, they will start to believe it. And then amazing things happen. I fully intend to be taking a lot of walks this year. Letting the kids vent about whatever is bothering them. And not offering them a solution (this was also in that talk I watched) but asking them what they think would be a workable solution. Asking them what I can do to help them. I have seen so many kids blossom when they feel that they matter. That their ideas matter. That we see them as fully human. Kids are people too, even the ones that don't have a lot of words. The 2020/21 school year is going to be weird. But I like weird. Let's all embrace the weird.
I mostly wanted to put in that bit about nonverbal people also being people. But then I started thinking about all the kids I will get to work with this year. All of the different challenges I will likely run into (since I am a SIP para, it is definitely in the cards for me) and of the kids I can hopefully help to feel that they matter. This year my focus is definitely on checking in and making sure everyone is doing OK. We won't get through all the work, it just won't happen. But maybe we can teach some really important life skills. Like coping, frustration management and flexibility.
I don't have a good segue to move on so I will just abruptly switch gears. The other day I got a package from Jennifer Buxton. It was my prize pack from the Pandemic Performance Panorama. I opened it up and it was the most "me" package I have ever received! Look at all the pink things! It was glorious!I was thrilled to pieces. Not only did a get a whole bunch of pink stuff but it was literally a bunch of pink stuff I was just thinking of ordering the other day. I have some miniature milk crates, but I don't have a pink one exactly like this, and really, who can ever have too many milk crates? I had that exact grooming box in my etsy cart (and maybe still do) and just hadn't committed to buying it. The medallion is super nice and one I will not feel bad about never painting. The other pink props will definitely get used sooner or later. Now I want to set up some really elaborate pink performance entries. ALL THE PINK!
Speaking of prizes, I ordered some miniature rosettes for the Field of Dolls Online show. And when I say "some" I mean enough for champs and reserve in English, Western and Other in both the OF and AR/CM division. I also mean 1st-6th for each class in the specialty classes, and times 3 because each judge will judge those classes separately. There are also fancy miniature rosettes for champ and reserve (X3) for the specialty classes. There are a lot of chances to get miniature rosettes. And a lot more prizes to come.