In Whose Words?
Today’s Autism Moment is once again provided courtesy of the STEM Fair. We used to call it a Science Fair, when I was a kid…
Today, we are finishing up all the Science Project stuff. It is the day when Medium-Sized-Guy types up his Procedure sheet and edits the Materials lists. We have die-cut letters for the display ready to go, and so on. But the big thing *I* realized, as he has finished this project, was that there will need to be editing done on the research paper portion.
“You will need to say something about [X],” I tell him.
“Slow down! You’re talking too fast!” he protests, tapping away on the computer keyboard.
“That’s okay,” I respond, “because you’re supposed to be using your words, not mine.”
This does not compute. “You tell me what they are.”
“No, you have to retell this in your own words.”
“But that’s not fair,” he says mildly. ”I’m disappointed. You’re giving me too many words.”
“I am not giving you words. You’re supposed to be making your own words.”
Lather, rinse, repeat.
In his mind, the originator of the words is not hugely important. He knows he is not to copy from his resource sources for this project. That is a FACT that stands in his head like other FACTS. (The ink is low. Getting electrocuted by the light socket can hurt. Too many crackers have too much salt.) But words? They are moveable, meaning the same thing here or there. Why does it matter whose mouth they come from?
He hasn’t said as much, granted. I am inferring. Because sometimes, that’s what I do. Years ago, I wrote that parenting an autistic child can be a lot like language immersion – constant translating into and out of the new language.
These days, MSG talks pretty well. He adapts his words to old stories. But still…words are words.
But they have to be HIS.