Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Monday, July 27, 2015

Otherwise Known As Angel The Alien

I don't know why I gave it that title. Its always awkward to start blogging again after being out of the game for over a month! Its like, "HI I'M HERE, EVERYONE LOOK AT ME!"

Trying to get back into a blogging habit now that I am more or less settled here in the Pacific Northwest. (Yep, I finally came to terms with the idea of staying here long-term!) I am still staying with my Auntie Em and Uncle J. I substituted for a while but hated it, and then I got a very unexpected summer job. I got hired to LEAD a summer daycamp for children with special needs! When I applied, I thought I was just applying for a regular camp staff job, but then she said she wanted to hire me to be in charge of the whole thing! I deliberated on refusing the job. My mom thought it was a bad idea for me to try it. My Auntie Em's opinion was that the person who hired me did it for a reason, she saw something in me that made her think I was the right person for the job, and therefore I could do it.

(I think the lady who hired me was more or less desperate, I found out later that the camp was usually organized, activities planned, field trips arranged, staff hired and trained, etc, months ahead of time. And when I was hired, I had to figure out a way to do all that within about two weeks! And the way that the camp goes, we usually get the things we need about ten years after we need them. For instance, we were supposed to undergo Crisis Prevention training the weekend before camp, but it got cancelled, and now my boss is promising to reschedule it for a few weekends from now... but camp ends in 3 weeks! Pretty much the story of the summer. We;ve been flying by the seat of our pants. But I digress...)

My aunt encouraged me to be honest with the staff members about my Aspergers Syndrome, so that they could better understand where I was coming from. I did tell them on the first day, and nobody seemed shocked or dismayed. My (mostly) wonderful staff has treated me with friendliness and respect. There are a few that were not too happy about my being hired, but that was because they really liked the previous camp leader, who had left to get a full time job this year. I do some things a lot differently from the previous leader. She had a real take-charge personality, and I heard she even used to give the staff members weekly grades on their performance. She was very insistent that the children participate in every activity and that they toe the line. I'm more of a quiet leader. I like to ask people what they think, learn their ideas, explain my theories, etc. I am also more gentle with the kids and try to go about things from a nurturing point of view. For instance, if a child is having a "melt down" and is on the floor screaming, I am more likely to sit beside him and talk quietly to him, sometimes patting his back or stroking his hair, than to stand over him giving him ultimatums. It seems to work. They are able to calm down and get back into the swing of things more quickly, when they are not engaged in a power battle.

The summer started out shaky but is getting better and better. If it could only be permanent, I could do such great things with it! But there are only a few weeks left. I am putting off starting my school for at least another 6 months, due to a serious lack of funds of any sort. So that will mean I'll have to find another soul-crushing job. But this summer job has been really good for me, although it has also been exhausting! Some of my recent adventures have involved chasing a 12-year-old streaker around on the playground trying to get his clothes back on him (What IS it with kids with Down syndrome and stripping? I once taught a summer school class which consisted almost completely of kids with Down syndrome, and half of them would whip off their clothes whenever they got mad! But, again, I digress,,,) Getting whacked in the face by a 300 pound 16-year-old camper who towered over even the largest men in camp, and leading a very noisy drum circle consisting of children banging on overturned buckets.

In the mean time, Auntie Em and Uncle J and I usually do something fun on the weekends. I haven't made any actual friends here yet, but I do like spending time with my aunt and uncle! This past weekend we went to a small town street fair, which included an event where people sat in bathtubs filled with ice water and raced each other around cones. (The bathtubs had wheels on them, of course! Why wouldn't a bathtub have wheels?) The weekend before that, we went to Portland and roamed around. My aunt and uncle also take care of Lily during the day and take her hiking each day. One of my favorite things about living here is that we have two rivers very close to us, and can go to the beach at the drop of a hat. Lily loves it, and sometimes if I am not too tired after work I take her down there for a swim! The last time I wrote, she was still afraid of the water, but now she gets right in and even lays down!

I'm going to go to bed now, but I will come around and read some other blogs tomorrow. I will leave you with some new pictures of me and Lily!

Me standing in front of an iconic fountain in downtown Portland. 

Me riding the MAX, which is Portland's version of the EL. 

Me at a classic carshow, with my other uncle's head on a stick. He lives in Chicago and has Parkinsons, which limits his ability to leave the house, and he loves classic cars. So I thought ti would be fun to take a bunch of pictures with his head in them, and send them to him! He said he loved them and he looks at them all the time. 

Lily out for a little swim.