By Kodey Toney
There Goes My Hero
Last week I had the privilege to speak with a group of educators at the Tommy Spear Middle School in Sallisaw. Anytime I get the chance to spread autism awareness I jump at it. But I wasn’t really sure what I would talk about until a friend sent me some information on a new book. I mixed this with another informative piece that I’ve read in the past, and I thought I would share both this week.
I got a message earlier in the week about a new book that was recently released. I found it interesting and decided to download the sample on iBooks. I read the introduction and felt immediately that I had to read the rest of the book, which I’m working on now.
“The Reason I Jump” is a book that was written by a teen who was diagnosed with autism. He wrote it to express what he feeling. The book was translated in English by David Mitchell who brought the story to the United States. I have yet to get into the main story, but I can tell you the introduction had some interesting insight into what it is like just sitting in a room for a child on the spectrum. You have to keep in mind that they are constantly on sensory overload. They cannot filter out things like the whistling of air coming from vents or the smells from a Scentsy pot.
I used the following excerpt, which I paraphrased and added some other information I had found in the past, to give the teachers an idea of how difficult it is just to sit in the room, let alone try to concentrate on reading, writing, and arithmetic.
“Imagine a room where twenty radios all tuned to different stations are blaring out voices and music. The radios have no off switches or volume controls. The lights are constantly flickering in your eyes. Relief will come only when you are too exhausted to stay awake. Colors and patterns are pouring in from all directions. They swim and clamor for your attention. The fabric softener in your shirt smells as strong as air freshener fired up your nostrils. Your jeans feel like steel wool. The floor keeps tilting like a ferry in heavy seas and you’re not sure where your hands and feet are in relation to the rest of you. You can actually feel the plates of your skull, and your head feels like it’s trapped inside a motorcycle helmet three sized too small. The air conditioning is as deafening as an electric drill. The person in front of you sounds like they are speaking into a cellphone, on a train going through lots of tunnels.”
This is life for a child on the spectrum each day. Can you understand, if only a small amount, the pain that they endure? This is why Konner is a hero to me.
I added to this discussion the “Ten Things Your Student With Autism Wishes You Knew” by Ellen Notbahm. I’ve written about his in the past, but I added some information about Konner so that maybe they could relate to the information, I will add the following link so everyone can look at ten things: http://www.ellennotbohm.com/
In conclusion, if you want me to speak to your group, club, organization, or business I would be happy to give a presentation. I can gear the discussion toward anything related to autism, and would offer this for free. Just contact me on Facebook, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
I hope that this can give everyone a small insight into the issues a child on the spectrum is coping with day in and day out.