Dying/broken/forgiven.... now I begin

Born: 17-06-56....gemini.... monkey
re-born: 3-09-80
born again\found: 14-04-08
other notable dates: 10-03-68; 03-09-87; 23-03-96;
1-05-98; 31-01-02; 5-04-04

Interests: movement, stressed/transgressive embodiment, lived experience (body\space\time\relation)
expression ( word, dance, text, image, story, music, poetics)
learning, yielding......

Hopes for the blog:
offer up the wild intersectedness of lived experience and engage others in creative, expressive, perhaps irreverant, hopefully playful, and respectful encounters....
enact kindness
create moments of pause for disclosure, discovery, stillness

Saturday, September 12, 2015


and on it goes, tales from Autism camp...

Victoria is my most senior camper. She has been attending for 20 years. I first met her when she was a few months shy of her 11th birthday. She has given me smiles, tears, a concussion, her trust and her friendship.
And, of course, her logic.

One theorist I study, Joseph Straus, proposes an alternative 'reading' of the 'symptoms' of autism. Rather than whatever edition of the DSM manual's rehash of 'make the call' one consults, there is usually a version of obsessive fixations, purposeless repetition, and deviant sociality (oftentimes known as 'the triad of impairments') as the markers of the disorder. Straus proposes fixity of focus, local coherence and private meanings as being more resonant with the lives of Auties and Aspies who are increasingly finding their own ways to tell the rest of us about their lives and experiences. Further, these characteristics are not deficits, but rather, ways of being in the world that are idiosyncratic, meaningful, functional and helpful. Other theorists of cultural semiotics, notably  Harwood Fisher, suggest that personal and embodied logics precede meaning... necessarily. I mention these two theorists' examples not to launch into a black hole of theory, but rather to contextualize a point that I want to make: that Victoria LIVES what many theories and theorists work hard to express.

Back to Victoria's logic.
We are on a mini-train at a Niagara Safari  venue. The train chugs and rolls and wobbles with stops along the way of the large and sprawling park. Whenever ASD camp goes to this venue, Victoria and I take a train ride around the whole property. She is taller than I by about a foot, and outweighs me by about 90 pounds. Throughout the ride, she makes imperious proclamations. Here is an example of her logic.
We stop to drop off and pick up passengers. She is ready to go. She shouts "Green light GO!" The driver obliges. On the ride to our next stop Victoria lays out her logic. Green lights go with red lights on the Christmas tree. At our next stop, we drop off passengers and pick up passengers. Victoria is ready to go. She shouts "Christmas!". Nothing happens. She looks at me, puzzled. How could the driver not have understood that connection? Green lights go with red lights on the Christmas tree. ERGO, Christmas means... GO. Duh. Eventually, the driver starts up the engine and we do, indeed, GO. I suspect, however, that this happened in spite of, rather than because of, Victoria's enthusiastic encouragement of the driver.
Victoria's reasoning/connecting of ideas is known as metonymic logic. Victoria builds this in her mental landscape as a set of private and coherent structures that lead her to a conclusion which, when examined with an open mind, does indeed have a logical structure which precedes meaning (what does Christmas 'mean'? it means GO).

Welcome to ASD camp. Again and anew.
Never dull; remarkable in so many ways.
My scholarship, my pedagogy and my open mind remain in awe (and in debt).


  1. In debt--the worst part of trying to learn the language of another so they can have an interpreter in the world. Your debts all inclusive should be cancelled H.

  2. Hey WM. thanks for the visit and the nice comment. Glad you can see her way of being as valuable. She is a pistol.
    Nice stuff happening at your blog, btw.

  3. Echoes of the alternate reality ideas of PK Dick and RD Laing :)

  4. Garth-yes, indeed. Good references there. Laing especially.
    thanks for the visit. Hope all is well in your universe. :)