So I’ve tackled some pretty intense subjects the past two posts. I’ve tried to remain as honest as possible throughout this whole Post-ASB experience, and I hope that I’ve at the very least sparked some type of inner dialogue. The least I can hope for is that this “Post-ASB Trilogy” made you think about these very sensitive topics in a new way, even if you don’t agree with the opinions I’ve expressed.
I don’t want everyone to agree with my opinions. If that were the case, then discussions would be extinct and fresh ideas would never come into existence. My personal experiences have led me to the conclusion that the most enlightening discussions happen when all parties are blatantly honest, no matter how politically incorrect or controversial that opinion may be.
This honesty must be paired with well-founded reasoning behind the opinion, or else it is rendered invalid…the point remains that without people thinking about topics in unusual ways, intellectual and spiritual growth are stifled. That is my opinion, in any case.
“Closed minded” is a term that gets thrown around a lot, for instance. Closed mindedness is not the belief in an unpopular opinion, as it seems to be popularly regarded as, but the refusal to consider alternative points of view than your own. It is only when one has analyzed and compared all other schools of thought to his own that he should decide to present his opinion. It goes without saying, of course, that he should also keep an open mind that he could be wrong. It is prideful folly to consider oneself infallible. I am not exempt from these flaws, nor do I pretend to be. I do, however, believe that open and honest discussions are the best vehicle for growth as a person, and that is the purpose behind the past two posts: presenting an alternate viewpoint. Based on the feedback I’ve received, some people have agreed with me, and some haven’t. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
But I digress from what I originally intended to be the focal point of this post: ASB Virginia’s Reorientation.
Coming back from Camp Baker and having experienced the things (and individuals) that I’ve described in previous posts, we came back to Lafayette with one question on our minds: What now? How do we take this experience and do something with it? How do we try to make a difference in the lives of the people that we just spent a whole week with?
We found the answer in arts & crafts. See, certain individuals with autism are extremely sensitive to tactile interactions. A 2007 study published in the American Journal of Occupational Therapy revealed that 95% of the sampled children with autism spectrum disorders “demonstrated some degree of sensory dysfunction.” On our trip, some of the kids would be fascinated with how things felt. These things included different kinds of cloth, and even hair.
So we decided to use this sensitivity to our advantage, and set about pursuing a project designed to embrace this sensitivity. Our reorientation project is based around the design and production of “Tactile Books,” using the goodwill and volunteered time of fellow Lafayette students. We’ve been set up in the Farinon Student Center during lunch times, possessing a table stocked with different materials and construction paper. Passing students stop and make a letter of the alphabet out of a material–for instance, an “A” out of feathers, or a “Q” out of puff paint and seashells. The results over the past two days have been surpassing expectations. We’ve already gone through the alphabet and are halfway through another book after only 2 combined hours of volunteering.
It’s really great to see my fellow classmates get into the project, and take 10 minutes out to create something that these kids will enjoy. As soon as the books are done, I’ll post the pics. But for now, if you’re a Lafayette student, feel free to drop by and make a letter! Get your artist on.