HOW I CAME TO UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF PLAY

KIMG1460~2REMEMBERING THE PAST HAS NEVER BEEN A PROBLEM FOR ME. THERE ARE THINGS I WOULD RATHER NOT RELATE TO YOU, LIKE THE LONG HOURS WHERE I SPENT TIME WITH A SPEECH THERAPIST IN THE TINY ROOM. OR THE HOURS MY MOM SPENT DRIVING ME FROM ONE APPOINTMENT TO ANOTHER, TRYING TO FIND A WAY INTO MY WORLD. HOW SHE TRIED SO MANY GOOFY THINGS, YOU CAN’T IMAGINE! ALL THAT TIME WAS SPENT TRYING TO FIX ME WHEN I WASN’T BROKEN IN THE FIRST PLACE. BUT IT TOOK SOME TIME FOR MY PARENTS TO REALIZE THAT.

WHERE THEY GOT IT RIGHT WAS IN THEIR ATTITUDE ABOUT PLAY. PLAY WAS A WAY IN. PLAY LET ME BE MYSELF, AND I FELT ACCEPTED FOR WHO I WAS RATHER THAN FOR EVERYTHING I WAS NOT. GETTING THAT VALIDATION WAS THE MOST IMPORTANT FEELING I EXPERIENCED IN MY SHORT LIFE.

PLAY LET ME BE MYSELF, AND I FELT ACCEPTED FOR WHO I WAS RATHER THAN FOR EVERYTHING I WAS NOT.

HOW I PLAYED AS A CHILD WAS SO DIFFERENT FROM OTHER KIDS THAT NO MATTER HOW I TRIED, I JUST COULDN’T DO IT THE NORMAL WAY. TAKE, FOR EXAMPLE, SKATEBOARDS. THE ONLY THING I WOULD EVER WANT TO DO IS SPIN THE WHEELS AND WATCH THE PATTERNS THEY MADE ON THE AIR CURRENTS AROUND THEM. OR ANOTHER FAVORITE: MAGIC SAND. HOW I LOVED TO DRIZZLE IT IN FRONT OF MY EYES, AND WATCH THE INDIVIDUAL PIECES OF SAND FALLING AS A PART OF AN EVER-CHANGING MASS. REMARKABLE! GETTING THAT IN MY HAIR WAS A PLUS BECAUSE I GOT TO FEEL THAT GRITTINESS OF THE SAND ON MY SKIN. ALL I KNOW IS THAT I FELT SO GROUNDED AFTER I PLAYED WITH IT, AND AM SO GRATEFUL THAT MY PARENTS DIDN’T MAKE ME STOP.

LOOKING BACK, MY MEMORIES ARE DIVIDED INTO TWO PERIODS: BEFORE PLAY AND AFTER GETTING FREE OF THERAPY. AFTER GETTING LESS THERAPY, HAVING RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHERS FEELS MORE NATURAL. FRIENDS AREN’T USUALLY PAID TO HANG OUT WITH YOU, AFTER ALL. THEY AREN’T SUPPOSED TO BE ADULTS TO WRITE NOTES ON A CLIPBOARD ON TRACK YOUR EYE CONTACT. ALL I EVER WANTED WAS TO FIND A WAY TO CONNECT WITH OTHER KIDS AND NOT BE JUDGED.

LEARNING TO LETTERBOARD WAS ANOTHER WAY FOR ME TO GAIN A FOOTHOLD INTO A WORLD THAT WAS CONFUSING AND FOREIGN TO ME. FOR EXAMPLE, MY SENSORY SYSTEM IS PERCEPTIVE IN WAYS THAT HAVEN’T BEEN ACKNOWLEDGED BY EDUCATORS OR PROFESSIONALS THAT STUDY AUTISM. MANY BELIEVE THAT AUTISTICS CAN’T EMPATHIZE WITH OTHERS AND FUNCTION LIKE ROBOTS. THAT COULDN’T BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH.

MY PROBLEM IS THAT I FEEL TOO MUCH. AUTISM HAS MADE IT SO THAT I CAN PICK UP ON SO MANY OTHER VIBRATIONS THAT NEUROTYPICALS DON’T EVEN REGISTER. FOR EXAMPLE, I USED TO GET TOTALLY OVERWHELMED BY ALL THE SOUNDS OF A CLASSROOM. WHEN I THINK BACK, I CAN RELATE TO THE IMAGE OF AN AUTISTIC KID HIDING IN THE CORNER AND LINING UP HIS TOY CARS, BECAUSE THAT WAS THE ONLY THING I COULD CONTROL. I COULDN’T DO ANYTHING ABOUT A CACOPHONY OF SENSORY INPUT I WAS GOING THROUGH, SO I CONTROLLED WHAT I COULD. ALL THOSE YEARS, I WAS TRYING TO KEEP IT TOGETHER AND MAKE SENSE OF IT ALL. EVENTUALLY, I WAS BETTER ABLE TO SORT THROUGH THE SOUNDS AROUND ME AND MAKE REALISTIC ADJUSTMENTS OF WHAT I NEEDED TO DO TO FUNCTION IN ANY GIVEN SITUATION. IN SCHOOL, I KNOW I WILL NEED REGULAR BREAKS TO CLEAR MY HEAD, AND SOME TIME TO LISTEN TO MUSIC. AT HOME, MY FAVORITE ACTIVITY TO RELAX IS CUTTING PAPER, AND MY FAMILY KNOWS TO LEAVE ME ALONE FOR AN HOUR AFTER SCHOOL SO I CAN HAVE SOME DOWN TIME.

A SENSE OF COMMUNITY RUNS THROUGH OUR VERY BEING, AND IS AS INTRINSIC TO HUMANS AS BREATHING.

NOW I’M ABLE TO SHARE MY THOUGHTS AND CONNECT WITH PEOPLE WITHOUT HAVING TO RELY ON MY MOM OR MY PARAEDUCATOR AT SCHOOL. ALL I EVER WANTED WAS TO BELONG, AND NOW I DO. A SENSE OF COMMUNITY RUNS THROUGH OUR VERY BEING, AND IS AS INTRINSIC TO HUMANS AS BREATHING. IT IS A FORM OF LOVE THAT FEEDS OUR SOULS, AND BRINGS OUT THE VERY BEST IN US WHEN IT SEEMS LIKE THE WORLD IS GOING MAD. VERY LITTLE GOOD BEGINS IN CHAOS. IT IS WHEN WE COME TOGETHER AND LOVE EACH OTHER THAT GOODNESS PREVAILS.

TONIGHT, I WANT TO ASK EACH OF YOU TO APPEAL TO THE CHILD INSIDE YOU, AND BE A LITTLE PLAYFUL WITH EACH OTHER. LAUGH A LOT AND DROWN OUT THE RHETORIC THAT IS FLOODING THE NEWS. FIND WAYS TO PLAY MORE AND COMPLAIN LESS. BELIEVE IN THE POWER OF BEING SILLY AND FUNNY WHEN THE MOOD STRIKES, AND LETTING YOUR TEARS FLOW WHEN YOU ARE SAD. FIND COMFORT IN EACH OTHER AT THOSE TIMES LIKE A CHILD DOES WHEN THEY SCRAPE THEIR KNEE. ABOVE ALL, ACCEPT THAT WE ALL BELONG TOGETHER, WHETHER THAT’S ON THE BUS OR IN THE CLASSROOM OR ON THE PLAYGROUND.

PLEASE SUPPORT HARPER’S PLAYGROUND, AND HELP THEM CREATE MORE PLACES WHERE EVERYONE CAN PLAY TOGETHER!

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TRIP ENDING

THE TRIP IS COMING TO A CLOSE. IT HAS BEEN A WHIRLWIND THAT HAS BEEN A MIX OF EMOTIONS: EXCITEMENT, ANTICIPATION, AND MAKING NEW FRIENDS. I AM ESPECIALLY GRATEFUL FOR THE PEOPLE WHO REACHED OUT AND TRIED TO TALK WITH ME. I KNOW IT TAKES TIME, AND KIDS MY AGE OPERATE AT WARP SPEED.

FOR THE TEENS WHO HAVE A DISABILITY, I WOULD STRONGLY ADVISE YOU TO APPLY FOR NEXT YEAR’S CONTEST. IT’S INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT FOR YOU TO BE HERE AND SHOW OTHERS THAT WE EXIST. DIFFERENT EXISTS IN EVERY ASPECT OF SOCIETY, AND WHEN ORGANIZATIONS SANITIZE WHO IS SHOWN, IT DOES NO ONE ANY FAVORS. I AM THANKFUL FOR THE TRIP AND EVERYTHING I’VE SEEN ALONG THE WAY.20121474_745117658993777_1972592196991605971_o

GOOD NEWS!

HEY EVERYONE,

I WANTED TO LET YOU KNOW THAT I AM DEFINITELY GOING ON THE UN TRIP NEXT MONTH! THERE WERE PEOPLE TALKING TO PEOPLE FOR A WHILE, AND IT FINALLY GOT WORKED OUT. I COULDN’T BE MORE EXCITED TO GET ON A PLANE!

I WANT TO THANK EVERYONE WHO SPOKE OUT FOR ONE AUTISTIC KID WHO HEARD THE WORD “NO” AND SAID, “WHY NOT?” ALSO TO GORDON AT DRO FOR BEING MY VOICE. TO MY PARENTS I AM ESPECIALLY GRATEFUL, AND UNDERSTAND THAT THIS IS MY DESTINY. YOU HAVE TAUGHT ME WELL.

Letter to the Editors of “The Oregonian”

DEAR OREGONIAN,

THE REASON I TOOK PART IN TODAY’S WALKOUT WAS BECAUSE I MEANT TO BE THERE ON BEHALF OF STUDENTS WHO ARE DISABLED. WE ARE NOT INCLUDED IN THE VISION OF TRUMP’S AMERICA. MANY PEOPLE WANT TO SEE THIS COUNTRY BECOME GREAT AGAIN. WHAT ARE THEY EXPECTING FROM A MAN WHO DOES NOT PRETEND TO CARE ABOUT ANYONE WHO IS NOT WHITE AND RICH? REALLY, CAN WE EXPECT TO BE INCLUDED IN ANY DEBATES ABOUT WHAT PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES CAN ACHIEVE WITH TRUMP? I SINCERELY DO NOT BELIEVE HE CARES. FOR THAT REASON I PROTESTED TODAY, AND I WILL CONTINUE TO VOICE MY OPINION IN ANY WAY I CAN. PLEASE DO NOT DISPARAGE YOUNG PEOPLE’S PASSION; WE WILL BE VOTING IN FOUR YEARS. PLEASE BE PATIENT WITH US AS WE CUT OUR POLITICAL TEETH.

SINCERELY,

NIKO BOSKOVIC
NORTH PORTLAND

The Trump Win

REALLY HARD TO PROCESS THE ELECTION RESULTS RIGHT NOW. YOU MIGHT THINK I WOULD HAVE MORE TO SAY, BUT IN FACT I AM TOO UPSET ABOUT WHAT A TRUMP PRESIDENCY WILL DO TO MY MUSLIM BROTHERS AND SISTERS, TO MY GAY FRIENDS, TO MY SISTER AND OTHER YOUNG GIRLS, TO ANYONE WHO WANTS TO LIVE WITHOUT FEAR, TO THINK ABOUT MYSELF.

WHERE IS THE LOVE? WHERE IS THE TOLERANCE THAT MOVES US FORWARD AS A COUNTRY? WE HAVE TAKEN A GIANT STEP BACKWARDS, AND WILL FIND SOLACE IN WHAT WILL BE RESUMED IN FOUR YEARS. I EXPECT THE WORK WILL CONSUME A GREAT DEAL MORE TIME TO FIX THAN IT WILL TAKE TRUMP TO DESTROY.

Comments on ABA Therapy

In preparing for a psychology assignment on behaviorists, Niko read the following article and had some thoughts about his own experience with ABA.

https://spectrumnews.org/features/deep-dive/controversy-autisms-common-therapy/

I AGREE WITH THERE BEING A MIDDLE GROUND FOR ABA. IN MY EXPERIENCE, IT HELPED ME MAKE SENSE OF THE WORLD AROUND ME. IT WAS SOMETHING THAT WAS FUN. I HATED WHEN I WAS TOLD TO QUIET MY HANDS.

SOMETIMES, HOWEVER, MY INSTINCT WAS TO HAVE A MAD FACE OR PROTEST HAVING TO DO SOMETHING. MOSTLY I JUST WANTED TO PLAY. THIS MEANT CUTTING PAPER AND SPRINKLING IT ON THE FLOOR.

LATER ON I GOT BORED WITH ABA, AND WAS SO RELIEVED WHEN YOU SWITCHED TO REALLY OPENING YOURSELVES UP TO PLAYING ON MY TERMS. IT WAS A TURNING POINT FOR ME. KNOWING HOW I INTERACTED WITH OTHERS, IT MADE A TREMENDOUS DIFFERENCE WHEN YOU STARTED ACCEPTING ME AS AN AUTISTIC PERSON. WHEN THIS HAPPENED, IT WAS LIKE YOU THOUGHT OF ME AS SOMEONE WITH SOMETHING TO CONTRIBUTE. I THINK ONLY PEOPLE WHO HAD ABA KNOW WHAT THAT FEELS LIKE.