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Autistics at Play

Photo of a home-made obstacle courseIt’s not an easy thing for an extreme introvert with sensory sensitivities to spend a whole day at a conference.  Even though I’m really motivated to change the world’s understanding of autism, and am driven to do my absolute best, I often have a difficult few days afterwards, as my system integrates what I pushed through.  So this time I wanted to try something different to see if it helped.   It did.

After the conference, some friends came over to play.  One made a series of different obstacle courses in my living room, and we spent a few hours doing nothing but eating well, resting, and playing.  If I could have one wish for every autistic out there, it would be that there were more opportunities for goofing around,  laughing, engaging in some form of creative activity, and feeling appreciated and understood.

If you haven’t read Kristine Barnett’s book, “The Spark”, I highly recommend you look through at least the section where she talks about the community centre she and her husband made for local children with autism to go play and create.  The results were remarkable in terms of gains for the children involved.  If I could have a place like that for autistics of all ages in every community, I’d be so very, very happy…

Over ten years ago, a group of us would meet in Toronto every few weeks to work on bridging the gaps in the autism community.  We were four adults with autism, four parents with autistic children, and four staff members of non-profits.  While some of the parents and staff members switched out over the several years I was part of that group, it was a remarkably cohesive vision and goals we created… but we stumbled over going any further.

We wanted to create an “Autism House” with a large walled garden, places to climb, lots of greenery to cut noise.  Inside it would have spaces for music, spaces for kitchen and simple chemistry messes, spaces for art of many sorts, spaces for learning (both for parents seeking better resources about autism, and for autistics seeking to feed their special interests), and most of all, spaces for caring and peace.

Right now, there are groups who arrived at very similar conclusions to ours, and are creating things similar to our vision, similar to Kristine’s.  I think we all need more joy and play in our lives.  Help me get us there?  What kinds of things do you do for fun, with the autistics in your life?  How can we build more of that into everyone’s lives?

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