This last exchange was bittersweet. I was so sad that this might be the last time this group of people met together, yet I loved hearing what everyone has to say, and this time particularly loved the artwork we all made together.
One thing that stood out to me the most was the poetry group after lunch. After we all decided that we were not creative enough to create line by line stanzas, we decided on acrostic poetry. We all gave a line as part of our word, respect, and then kind of joked around that we were surprised that Huan had not written an entire poem himself. Then, we asked him to make a haiku, and in just a few short minutes, he came up with one that really summed up our time together as the Tribe and our class:
Real connections go
further than the others do.
Patience: give in now.
I think Huan really hits home the point of this class for both us and for the Tribe. The theme of the year was “Creating Welcoming Communities,” which I believe we have done in our group by making the real connections that Huan spelled out.
In addition, it just hit me how much smarter Huan is than I am. I described this haiku and other things mentioned in this exchange to some friends, who just seemed amazed by all of it. I wish that people were not so amazed by experiences like this with autistic people and their intelligence. I thought in this conversation about the discussions we had in class on intelligence, and how so many people believe that most autistics have intellectual disabilities. I think just this one moment with Huan or any of the Tribe could change so many peoples’ minds about this topic.
Also, I was really focused during this exchange and in this moment on the letter board, especially after our conversations about communication. Watching Huan spell this, I did not see the letter board move. However, I also know that if I had not watched the board, I would know that only Huan could have said this. I think that this should be the type of “evidence” that people should use in determining the need for letter boards in the classroom, as Fletcher-Watson called for. Each Tribe members’ personality comes out in their words, just like any neurotypical if they speak, only the Tribe uses the letter boards. I hope that others could have this experience with non-speaking autistic people, so that they will allow them the basic human right to communicate, using their letter boards.
Overall, I am really sad that this semester is coming to a close, and we will not be able to meet with the Tribe again as a class. Our theme was well-chosen and evident in our last exchange, especially when we got to the reception that the parents so kindly organized. I think that showed how truly welcoming we had made our community, and I hope that others can strive for this type of acceptance as well.