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

Monday, August 29, 2011

Just Another Manic Monday

So begins day one of week two of autism movement camp for the summer of 2011. Readers of this blog will know that I have written here before about the adventures of offering a camp for kids, youth and young adults with ASD (autism spectrum disorder). I always protect the anonymity of my campers with pseudonyms or avatars  and I sometimes conflate a couple of experiences into one so that the protagonists cannot be identified.
Last week's camp had some intriguing events, and I likely will elaborate on them in future posts. Today, I feel compelled to approach the dramatic similarities between several of  this Monday's experiences and last Monday's experiences. Day One of each week has a special flavour all its own. One might say that day one really brings things out in both the campers and the students who work with them. Last week 55 campers attended with 23 students and 9 angels (angels are senior students with previous experience or former students who return to contribute their experience to assist the students who are in the instructional role for the first time). This week we have 65 campers with 30 students and 12 angels ( although two of these angels can only be there for one day each).
So, the bookend thematic is: poop. What else?
One little guy (older, age 13, but still quite small and cute as a button) celebrated last Monday with a marvelous poop episode.... he pooped in his pants, so we brought him to the bathroom and cleaned that up and then he pooped in the toilet and we cleaned that up and then he pooped a nice little pile on the bathroom floor, and we cleaned that up. All this time, the rest of the campers are waiting on two large, hot, noisy buses to go to a fun place for lunch and then a swim. Cute little guy finally gets on and we go off to the lunch and swim venue. No more poop that day from anyone, although we did have some pee from the cute little guy and then another little guy felt compelled  to make a pee contribution as well. On the bus, of course. Well, not ON the bus, exactly, but while sitting on the bus. On the way back someone opens the window of the emergency exit and the beeper goes  off so the driver has to pull over and one cute little girl panics and begins wailing that she has to get off the bus and she wants to go home. Wailing is contagious, so we want the beeping to stop and the bus to start up again so that takes a bit more time than anyone likes, but we get going. The wailing stops (whew) and all is well for the rest of the ride back . One of the camper's (Victoria, of previous blog fame)  parents has run out of gas and so Victoria must sit and wait until an alternative is arranged. Change in schedule is not the strong suit of most folks with autism, so she is NOT IMPRESSED. Victoria's dad says he's getting a T-shirt that says " I'm the fucking asshole" . That was last Monday.  But, hey, no one died, no one got hurt and no one got lost. And we did not have to use a hose to clean down the walls. All things considered, a good day.
Today, the poop theme continued.  A bit of a wild morning.... a couple of my very good male students were  unexpectedly, albeit, unavoidably absent..... this meant re-jigging the groupings. Note the change reference in the previous paragraph. We begin with 6 UNIMPRESSED boys who can be remarkably ingenious in how they make their disappointment known. But we manage. We get through the morning. We load up the buses, we get to our destination. Lunch is busy, but then, wonderfully, it is time for swim. At 2:10 pm, approximately 40 minutes after we all get in the pool, there is a " fouling" (that means someone, likely one of my guys, shit in the pool and there are little rabbit pellet brown turds in the shallow end where 30 of my youngest AND SHORTEST kids are swimming). Note the change reference in the previous paragraph. Now we must get out of the shallow end and somehow fit them all in the deeper end where they cannot touch bottom [an aside here... of course, we obviously have to carry the little guys  and /or do a major run on the water wings and other personal flotation devices (PFDs... this field has numerous TLA's (three letter acronyms)]. Half of the group opts to get out and head outside to the lovely splash pad, almost as good as the pool. The rest remain in the water looking longingly at the warm, fun, bubbly and infinitely more attractive shallow end which they are not allowed to enter, and wail and moan and complain about how we are ruining their lives and everything is absolutely awful and they hate us.
So then, we finish swim and get out and get them changed into their dry clothes..... we get them on the bus and, yes, ta da, the cute little guy from last Monday, him?... he poops his pants right there on the bus. So we have to stay put and take him off and drag him (carefully ) to the bathroom and clean him up. While we are waiting, one of my angels inadvertently grabs the overhead emergency exit handle and sets off the beeper. The cute little girl, ... yep, the same one from last week... begins to wail that she has to get off the bus and she wants to go home. Consistency is a hallmark of autistic behaviour.  We get the beeping stopped (the angel is mortified.... but what the heck, these things happen...), the de-shitted cute  little guy back on the bus, and we are on the go. Whew. (Again)
We get back to our home base and two of the older boys have peed themselves while on the bus. Their parents assure us that they do not pee themselves. Of course. It's been a long day. We are having tactile hallucinations.
Did I mention that Day One  really brings it out of them??

and now... on to day two. Boldly go.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Show Me a Sign

Back from a week long sign language immersion camp in northern Ontario. Partner and I arrive and commit to " turning off our voices"  with the exception of any medical emergencies (partner has some significant health issues that I would not want to trust to my fledgling  ASL competence). With the exception of a few  more or less unexpected incidents ( an unimpressively underempahsized bed bug outbreak that resulted in six hours of clothes/bedding/towels/ luggage washing with the hottest water possible and the hottest drying possible and a door to our room that had no way to close except to place a chair against it),  some typical attention seeking behaviours from the students under the age of 25, and some cheating (!) from students (speaking in whispers so as not to be detected by the Deaf instructors and other hard of hearing participants), the experience was amazing. I would do it again in a heartbeat. There is a marvelous intimacy in this kind of shared silence and commitment to respecting Deaf culture. I was proud of partner for his steadfastness and his sweet sense of fun in the learning context, and I was proud of myself for the ways I was able to be present for the diverse and textured signs of culture and communication.  There is still lots to process..... and as soon as we returned to home base, I began ramping up for my own camp for kids with autism (which began this week .... as in today....more on that in future posts). But, that's the beauty of reflecting on critical incidents like this immersion camp... there are expressive gifts that await me in the days and weeks ahead. I'm looking forward to visiting fellow bloggers and catching up.... and getting out some posts of my own.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


Partner and I will be attending a sign language immersion camp for the next week in a beautiful setting in northern Ontario. No speaking allowed.  Good reflective  grist for the mill for future posts.
Have a grand week, y'all.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Eye of the beholder haiku

white wings settling
among red leaves branches sway
blossoms become birds

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

... and where we love

And where we love is home, 
Home that our feet may leave, but not our
The chain may lengthen, but it never parts.

Oliver Wendell Holmes