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

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Wild Dogs, Hell Cats, Savage Beasts, Bloodthirsty Cannibals

This is my 20th summer of my Autism Movement camp. I began with a desire to offer movement opportunities for kids and teens with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) who would typically NOT have an opportunity to attend a summer camp of any kind, much less a movement based camp. In many ways my camp back then was 'the last house on the block'.... that is, it was the last choice for the desperate parents who had been looking for programs for their kids but who were getting refusals or costs that were untenable. 20 years later, that is, my here and now,  my camp still seems to be serving the same function, although I am happy to say that there ARE other organizatoins out there that are taking up the responsibility of offering camp experiences to ALL kids and teens, not only the neuro-typical and high functioning ones. I began with 23 kids; now, typically I accept between 35-65 kids per week ( it is a two week camp) depending on how many students and volunteers I can attract and train.
The title of my post is the list of the names of the four groups at camp. That first summer, my campers decided that they wanted to name their groups, and so they did so with much gusto and not a little irony (for example, the group of kids who had those who tended to bite out of anxiety decided on the Bloodthirsty Cannibals. Ha ha. Funny; unless you are the one getting bitten!!). The names have stuck, and this summer's campers have embraced them in their own sweet ways. :)

I have not posted since June. Amazing... July and August have flown!! I have been teaching, prepping this summer's students and volunteers, and planning the camp. Wow. I have more supports than I had 20 years ago. And I am lucky to have them around me. I thought I would give you today's highlights... then as this week unfolds, give a few other tidbits from last week as well.
and, so, today's highlights....
The five pound poop.... one fella came in looking distressed; allergies, odd gait, moaning a little bit. This young man does not use speech for communication, but he has other effective strategies. After some distressed wandering, he made his way to our sensory room, let out a massive grunt and produced a truly epic shit (odor and volume, if you need the criteria). He is also diapered, so my students were elbow deep in poop as they assisted him in cleaning up and getting changed.
The intrepid hiding man... another fella likes to find small sheltered places to hide... usually he is not actually hiding... we know were he is. Today, he found an excellent hiding place and evaded us for about 10 minutes as we were attempting to load campers on the bus. You know that feeling when you think you have lost your child?? Yeah, that one. Awful. But, we hunted and found him huddled and snickering behind a huge pile of mats. He skipped onto the bus with three or four of us chasing behind.
Another little guy will be attending on Wednesday only (a few glitches with student and volunteers saying they will attend and then not showing up.... sigh) but he called me and my colleague a total of 20 times on our cells.... to confirm his attendance on Wednesday. Likes to dot the i's and cross the t's, this one. We cannot answer, of course... or we will be getting ten times that many calls... OCD is a common co-occurrence with ASD.
Then there was the spectacular nudity scramble in the family change room after swim where another young fella was not happy about something and needed to slam himself into the floor and the walls to get out his rage... and punch a few students in the process. We got his mom in there as fast as we could get her there and then things calmed down....
I could go on... but as you can see, it is thrilling, demanding, absurd, heartbreaking and utterly delightful. Every emotion you can imagine.... every intense moment partnered with a supremely tender one.
More to come.
So much to say about the students and colleagues on this journey with me. They care in ways that go beyond words and deeds... it is the work of the heart. It is my deep privilege to work with them.


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