Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tall Tales

C.S.'s first book report was on Paul Bunyan and yesterday we continued the folklore theme at our boy scout meeting. We briefly discussed legends like Johnny Appleseed, Rip Van Winkle, Captain Kidd. Finally, I grabbed the kids attention with a true Jack Tale. Not a polished Disney version of Jack and the Bean Stalk. I let my accent loose on Jack in the Giants' Newground.

One thing I like about the Jack Tales is that Jack himself does not posses the amazing strength of John Henry or Pecos Bill, nor the immense size of Paul Bunyan or any of the bravery attributed to Zorro and Robin Hood and besides all that, he's not even an adult, he's just a boy. Like most boys, he'd rather be doing anything other than hard work — preferably winning the attention of a pretty girl. But unlike most boys, he runs across all sorts of things with amazing, magic properties and into frightening 2- and 3- and 4-headed giants. What makes him a folklore hero is the resourcefulness and clever wit this ordinary boy employs in the extraordinary situations he finds himself in.

And yes, I'm going to try to connect this to autism. Because as I've been working so hard to see and to explain the world from my son's point of view, I have realized it is a landscape populated with giants — the large echo-y room, the thick stitching on his pants, the bright colors that like Sirens try to steal his attention. For him, these are no ordinary sensations, they are bigger than big. And of course, my favorite are those moments of rare insight and individual perspective that are like magic.

And, as I surf through the many AutieMom blogs that I read; ProfessorMother, JoyMama, Mom-NOS, ASDMommy, etc., I see tale after tale of our children out there, those on the spectrum and their siblings, facing and slaying moments that have become giants for so many of us; the playdate, the toy store and — the most fearful of them all, the giant of all giants — the multi-headed classroom.

I believe our blogs are in this sense a new tradition of folklore, not oral but written, but most certainly shared mother to mother, dad to dad, person to person. From one link to another, they spread. There are some tales I'll never forget, nor will I the many Jacks and Jills and their wonderful resourcefulness.

Silver Lining: Your stories that are so like my stories and our children who are truly extraordinary.


  1. Well said, my new friend, well said.

  2. Oh, I love that perspective -- our story-blogging as a form of folklore. So happy to trade silver linings with you in this way!

  3. Hello, I am a piano teacher with a new student with autism. Mia is 12, she can read some, count (but does not understand concept of add/sub) speak only by repeating sentences.
    I wish to develop a series of piano lessons that would reach autistic students. I envision a website that would evolve into a primary research vehicle with parents/helpers trying the lessons and providing feed back as to what worked, or didn't. Right now the first series of 8 lessons are posted on youtube (SusanBessette)
    Can you suggest a way to reach parents/helpers who would be interested in such a program?
    Thank you, Susan Bessette


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