My Photo
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Writer/Curator/Founder of The Autism Acceptance Project. Contributing Author to Between Interruptions: Thirty Women Tell the Truth About Motherhood, and Concepts of Normality by Wendy Lawson, and soon to be published Gravity Pulls You In. Writing my own book. Lecturer on autism and the media and parenting. Current graduate student Critical Disability Studies and most importantly, mother of Adam -- a new and emerging writer.

“There is no hope unmingled with fear, and no fear unmingled with hope.” -- Baruch Spinoza

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


Little Drummer Boy

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stop the music which he hears, however, measured far away. --- Henry David Thoreau, Walden, Conclusion.

So my little drummer boy is still trying the potty -- he is a willful little one. I am thinking about all this motivation stuff -- extrinisic and intrinisic motivations of the autistic person. I do believe we all need our trophies and ribbons, but in the case of Adam, his competency seems to be the Holy Grail (or is it mine?). External motivators, or reinforcers have to be used oh so carefully and faded as quickly as possible. I know Adam needs to be pushed now, at this stage. We can try. We can see.

I think of motivation and the person with autism. Maybe being with us, or what we do, or what we think is "normal," just isn't that interesting. So, just what is rewarding?

First Category, Survival:

1. Food
2. Water
3. Shelter and Warmth
4. Love (people)

Second Category, things that lead us to first category:

1. That which comes easily;
2. That which feels good (pleasure which is sensory);
3. That which we get lauded for (fame);
4. That which buys us what we need or want (fortune);

In Adam's case, in an environment where much of the above is already provided for, what he finds motivating is:

1. Sensory Play
2. Food
3. Running Outside
4. Balloons and Bubbles
5. Swinging
6. Praise
7. Independence (competence -- ability to play and do things without having to ask for help)

It is the last point that I'm really noticing and for what I believe he will be willing to learn our way - no matter what else tries to pull him away. We can help him with those things by providing temporary ways to get his attention. On other days, the things he does on his own and that we try to interpret (his "behaviours") give him so much pleasure. We can look at that as negative by stating that these activities suck him away. Donna Williams seems to describe it as such. Yet, I will never forget the lines she wrote in Somebody Somewhere, when she rented a house and she was lying in the grass describing the environment -- the breeze, the trees, probably the way the air moved...she was lost in the world around her...THIS world, our world, perhaps her world, in a state of rapture.

I sit here in icy-cold Toronto. There is freezing rain beginning to come down, trapping me in the house this grey upon grey day...layered so thick now I hardly want to open my eyes. I rather dream about Donna's world under the trees. I believe most of us dream about such moments of losing ourselves and becoming larger.

Carry on, my little drummer boy. I consider this journey between you and me as somewhere between two worlds, both yours and mine.


Blogger SquareGirl said...

So wonderful! I loved that...

6:07 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home