Words form language which forms patterns of interactive communications. Many groups of human beings appreciate a ‘common rote language’ among many other industry distinct language forms; some rooted in religion, tradition (nuances and slang), history and geography, music, climate based, politics, specialized careers (ballet, forms of the arts, accounting, finance, fashion, culinary) – to name a few diverse few.
To simplify the ability to communicate via the verbal spoken language is insulting to human cultures and the human race at large. It is not so simple, and yet, those who suggest that autistic children will be successful as adults if only they have therapeutic interventions (given by one on one sessions with adults) at the earliest of ages prior to any form of actualised physical experiences with peers is unthinking, unthoughtful.
My first realisation and introduction to understanding my own complex use of language rooted in the autistic culture came after I was introduced to the writings of Donna Williams (Nobody Nowhere, Somebody Somewhere, Like Color to the Blind….). Her opening paragraph in her first book, validated in how she used words to form communications, as I too was using words in a similar vein to form communitions. It was the first time I had seen (apart from in English Literature classes for my O Levels, when studying the old playwrights, poets etc…) another human being seeing and feeling words and using words in the same way, the same formation of narrative.
This style, I have since come to define uniquely as the autistic culture formation is no different than studying and defining the embedded roots of any culture and group of humans in how they utilise words, word meanings and patterning formations to communicate from the base of their cultural identify. I have witnessed and experienced this way of autistic language use within the global autistic community for a couple of decades now, especially common in the autistic arena whereby no serious hard and fastened therapeutic access has been indoctrinated in early childhood.
For those who have been severely indoctrinated to believe that a cup is only a cup – not a vessel, not a glass, not a jug, not a can etc… – is betrayed in how word language evolves for each community and each individual within that community. They are also being conditioned to be cut off from abstract, experiential, conceptual and ultimately individualised thinking/processing. When you experience the world and the multi ways of forming word language for systems and various work/career related categories… you understand that without the opportunity to explore the relationship of words with actions or words with things (instruments/objects) of words with feelings (how one feels in the relationship of the word and the now-in-the-moment of experience) – you are defying the value each human has a right to during the onset of his/her developmental years and milestones. A human right to develop through physical experience the ability to formulate words related to action, sound, smells, feelings, conceptualized experiences in general. This process is invaluable because it provides the basis from which each human will develop autonomy, the access and opportunity to self determination, self realization, including the ability ultimately to respond to self.
In the early years of working with professionals and families with the youngest ANCA members from 2.5 yrs and up, the joy those children had coming into the studio to ‘feel’ the space, their environment, to experience word language associated to action rather than to rote word meanings which are applied with no freedom of expression or choice. This approach in our Playworks Program gave them opportunity to explore word language expressions with physical experiences, thus bridged over to academics, curriculum and the ability to conceptualise through diminutive forms such as books – reading and writing – and formulas related to subject matter. The expansion of their personalised ability to access language naturally enabled them to expand rather than be locked into one form never to realise opportunities that would lie ahead for them.
This is not to say that other human beings and cultures do not experience similar traditions of rote learning, narrowing their realm of influence and scope to be self determined and expansive outside of this box. Many human beings are channeled through assembly line systems growing up without access to opportunities in the myriad of the arts and physical activities both known to influence and affect positively, the developing child’s mind as well as body and interactive communications.
Words can start as a set of rhythmic constructs through sound and movement toward formulation of cultural language defining and redefining into definitive language of systems or careers post experiential/conceptual early childhood developmental experiences.
What I have left out for another blog post here is the option for coded langauge, a more recent understanding has crept into my life cycle of experiences through interacting with the political systems, bureaucracy and the like… This form of coded langauge is an interesting segway especially for those in the creative writing pool of communicators.
Listen in to my weekly broadcast with radio show host Kelly Green on Living with autism: 60 year journey to find out more about why we do what do at the ANCA World Autism Festivaland the decades of life experience which led us on this path.
Copyright Leonora Gregory-Collura. All rights reserved, November 18, 2016