Further Travels to the Unexpected

unexpected-road1

Last week, I featured Ian’s responses to the lesson on Christopher Columbus – A Case Study in Unexpected Events. Since then, I have done this lesson with several other RPM clients, all of whom have produced equally fantastic essays that are too good not to share! Communication requires a speaker and a listener which is why so many of my kids (and their parents) are so willing to share their words with you. Thank you for listening!

As a reminder, the creative writing for this lesson was, “Describe an event when things did not go according to plan. What did you do to navigate unexpected changes in plan? How did the event turn out?” Note: Comments or questions from me are in italics and client responses are in all capitals. I have added punctuation marks to my letter boards so use of punctuation (or lack their of) is determined by the client.

REALLY MY STORY IS ABOUT ME. SO I AM REALLY SMART BUT ALMOST NOBODY KNOWS SO IT IS UNEXPECTED.  I CAN TALK BUT I CAN SHOW MORE THAT I KNOW ON THE LETTER BOARD.  I THINK SOME PEOPLE STILL THINK NOBODY COULD TALK ONE WAY. ONLY TALKING WITH YOUR MOUTH IS EXPECTED.  SPELLING TO TALK IS NOT EXPECTED. GET PEOPLE TO BELIEVE THIS ACCEPTABLE. How should we do that? KEEP TALKING ABOUT IT. ~William

I ONLY KNOW ABOUT MY OWN EXPERIENCE AS A PERSON WITH AUTISM.  I DON’T THINK MY AUTISM WAS IN ANYONES PLANS.  HOWEVER, HERE I AM.  A YOUNG MAN WITH AUTISM  (I watched Ben pause, his finger hovering over for B [boy?] then C [child?] before he spelled YOUNG MAN) COMMUNICATING FOR THE FIRST TIME AT EIGHTEEN YEARS.  WHO EXPECTED THAT?  MY PARENTS WERE CERTAINLY NOT EXPECTING A CHILD WITH AUTISM.  MY BROTHER AND SISTER WERE NOT EXPECTING A SIBLING WITH AUTISM.  LIFE IS FULL OF UNEXPECTED OCCURRENCES. THE TRICK IS HOW YOU DEAL WITH IT!  MY PARENTS HAVE DEALT WITH ME CONSISTENTLY BY PUSHING ME TO DO MORE!  MY SIBLINGS HAVE EMBRACED ME AS I AM, NEVER ACTING ASHAMED OF ME OR EXCLUDING ME.  I AM NOT SORRY I HAVE AUTISM. IT IS WHO I AM.  I LOVE MY UNIQUE BRAIN AND PERSONALITY.  MY LACK OF TALKING DOES NOT MEAN I HAVE A LACK OF THINKING! EVEN THOUGH I  CAN’T COMMUNICATE BY SPEAKING I HAVE A LOT TO SAY TO EVERYONE.  I AM SO GRATEFUL RPM HAS GIVEN ME A WAY TO EXPRESS MY IDEAS.  I CAN NOW COMMUNICATE BY SPELLING.  THIS HAS BEEN MOST UNEXPECTED BUT WELCOME FOR SURE! ~Ben

I AM AUTISTIC SO NOT MANY PEOPLE THINK I AM SMART BECAUSE MY WORDS DON’T SHOW IT.  NOT EVERYONE THINKS I CAN TALK TRULY ON THE LETTER BOARD. MAYBE THEY SHOULD HAVE MORE FAITH IN ME.  NOT EVERYONE NEEDS TO TALK TO BE SMART. ~Emma

I HAVE NAVIGATED THE UNEXPECTED THINGS IN MY LIFE BY BEING OPEN AND ACCEPTING.  MY WAY THROUGH LIFE HAS BEEN FULL OF TWISTS AND TURNS AND NO MAP TO HELP ME NAVIGATE THE JOURNEY.  I HAVE FIGURED OUT HOW TO GET AROUND BY LISTENING TO AND LEARNING EVERYTHING AROUND ME.  THIS HAS BEEN SUCCESSFUL FOR ME SO FAR BUT I WOULD LIKE IT IF I DIDN’T HAVE TO WORK SO HARD. YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW HARD THIS IS TO FIGURE OUT! THE END. ~Huan

NOTHING IN MY LIFE HAS GONE AS EXPECTED.  I DID NOT PLAN TO HAVE AUTISM. MY BRAIN IS FINE.  MY BODY BLOWS (This client does RPM using a bluetooth keyboard and turned on the caps lock to spell blows in all caps!).  THIS WAS THE HAND I WAS DEALT.  MY CHALLENGE HAS BEEN TO MANAGE THAT HAND.  THE WORST PART IS NOT BEING ABLE TO TALK LIKE THE REST OF THE WORLD. ~Mike

SO MANY THINGS IN MY LIFE HAVE BEEN UNEXPECTED.  FOR ONE THING I NEVER KNOW WHAT MY BODY IS GOING TO DO LIKE FLAP AROUND LIKE A FISH OUT OF WATER.  MY MOUTH MAKES CRAZY SOUNDS BUT NOT SOUNDS FOR SPEECH. LUCKY FOR ME I HAVE A VERY STRONG BRAIN SO NOTHING USUALLY HAS TO SURPRISE ME TOO MUCH.  PLEASE DO NOT FEEL SORRY FOR ME.  I WOULD NOT HAVE MY LIFE ANY OTHER WAY. ~Paul

Using RPM for communication and learning may just make the Unexpected a bit more manageable. ~Elizabeth

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Further Travels to the Unexpected

  1. A theme runs through these comments that resonates with something in my own experience. It’s not easy being different than other people, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a crushing disadvantage nor perhaps even something worthy of pity.

    In my case, I was seeing a psychologist about relationship issues that I was having early in adulthood, and he asked me whether I would want to become straight if that were possible. (I’m gay, incidentally.) After thinking about that, my response to him was that I wouldn’t be the same person, I wouldn’t be who I am, and I like who I am, so “no”.

    Despite the challenges and limitations that these kids face, things that you or I might not be able to imagine as anything other than devastating to experience, their optimism isn’t just a “coping technique” for a “disability”. It’s an expression of their discovery – on their own, no less – that one’s value and strengths cannot be measured in direct comparison to anyone else but only in terms of one’s own values and sense of self-worth.

    The challenge for the rest of us is to find ways to allow the benefits of their unique perspective on life – a life that is perhaps not so much “limited” as “different” – to have the maximum impact on our lives. This is truly in our collective best interest, as these missives from the letter-boards demonstrate time after time!

  2. Dan! Thank you for this lovely comment! Your observations are always spot on! THIS observation in particular says it so well – “One’s value and strengths cannot be measured in direct comparison to anyone else but only in terms of one’s own values and sense of self-worth.”

    I could not agree more! Every day my kids teach me something new, challenge my thinking and give me a fresh lens on the world. We have so much to learn if we continue to listen!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s