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Friday, October 28, 2011

More about SPD, Autistic Spectrum and Impro

I Knew What I Was Getting Into
on Misty Edwards' "Joy (Live)" album
From Beanscot's YouTube Channel
This is not applicable to all forms of SPD, but SPD makes me a real 'slow mow'. Not just because I don't like fast movements.  I focus too much on details, that slows me down as well. Looking at matters from a helicopter view takes me very deliberate, conscious acting.  'Slow' has become one of my main characteristics. One that I'm not proud of.

   Already at primary school I decided that competitions were not for me.  Because like everybody else I hate to lose all the time. The only fair challenge was competing with myself.  That's not so bad. What about the following quotes?
  • "He who conquers others is strong; He who conquers himself is mighty"  by Lao Tzu
  • "I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is over self" by Aristotle
  • "He who conquers himself is the mightiest warrior." by Confucius
   Many people with SPD have learned to use personal goals  for a challenge, rather then compete with others. Nor do they try to excel in what is fashionable. 
   This attitude has its drawbacks. For instance it can cause loneliness.  Although... not necessarily. If you go out into the world often enough you will find kindred spirits. I have made many friends. They are however of the migratory kind. Many are scattered over Europe, some even live in Asia. 
   But hang on, there's a good side to it too. It sets you free. Free from the judgement of others, free from the pressure of deadlines and free from that fear of not being on top of the latest info, the latest gadget, the latest fashion. 

     I don't keep up with the latest news flashes, I don't tweet or live my life through Facebook. I even disregard notifications at my work if they are published as newsletters or some such nuisance. And that's why, when I was a student at the Hubrecht Laboratory, I didn't know that the regular monday-one-o'clock-lecture was cancelled. At 13:02 I grabbed my pen and paper and went to the library. The lights were turned off already, the speaker wanted to show a short film of her work. All seats at the back and at the corners of each row were taken, as if there was a conference of the Claustrophobia Society. I had no choice but to sit down in the middle of the front row. The lecture, in english, was clear, well told and very understandable. It was about a project involving fertilisation and development of frog's eggs in space. Not my favorite topic, but interesting.
At the end of the lecture, the speaker,dr. Ubbels of the Hubrecht Laboratory -my next lab neighbour so to speak- came up to me and thanked me for showing my interest by showing up. Well, I never throw away a compliment. I 'pocketed' it and returned to the histology lab. “Where have you been all the time?” the other analists of the lab chimed in chorus.
“At the lecture. Why weren't you?” The others where puzzled, explaining me that the lecture had been cancelled.
“But what about the lecture of Geert?” Now my colleagues started to laugh. Except for one, another student, My collegemate to be exact. He was a special case. 'Space crazy', knew a lot about planets, stars, space research and science fiction. “You went to that lecture?” He looked at me with awe. I nodded and shrugged. What was so special about it?
“She held that lecture for astronauts and NASA en Estec personell. People from the lab were not invited.” I couldn't smother a mischievous grin. The collegemate went on, “I can't believe you just went there. I wish I had had the guts. I'd love to be among all those astronauts.”
“Actually,” I said, rubbing it in,  “Geert thanked me for coming. She wanted people from the lab there.”

     The consequences of this mistake were two summer jobs and a request to participate in a science project involving a rocket launch. Keith Johnstone -father of Impro- is right: making mistakes is fun.
     Talking about Impro. The prejudistic thought is going about that people with autism or Asperger, -maybe even SPD?- could not enjoy Impro. Too unpredictable, too little routine. But people in the Autistic Spectrum want clarity, not routine. Routine is just a  lacklustre answer to a request for clarity.
    The German Impro players Christine and Deniz Dohler discovered the similarity between Impro and SonRise, a succesful playtherapy for children with special needs. Check out their site if you want to know more: AuJa! [german]

Dutch Impro teacher Marcoen Hopstaken has asked me to organise another Impro workshop for people who play -therapeutically- with special children. And I'm about to challenge Marcoen: I'll ask him if I can also look for adults with autism or Asperger for a workshop of Applied Impro (which is Impro used for team building, social skills, therapy, etc.).
It'll certainly be a new challenge for me. And I like to challenge myself. I said that before, didn't I?

Are you challenged?   Maybe you can check this out, a conference about Applied Impro:

Shining Your Brightest

AIN World Conference 
San Francisco 2012
20-23 September

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