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Ode to the Socially Awkward

Ode to the Socially Awkward

This Typewriter Doesn't Ding! taken in Indiana

Place. Lately, I have been trying to find my place. The place where I contribute. At 50, I guess you could say that I am at which Erik Erikson posited as Generativity vs. Stagnation. Middle Adulthood. In this stage, adults need to create and nurture things that will outlast them. Hmmmm. The need to create has increased so much, especially during the pandemic.

Today, I am in a new city. I met one of my students for the first time face-to-face yesterday for state assessments which are taking place this week. She has autism as her special education eligibly. She is socially awkward, like me and we were searching for things to talk about after the assessments. I led the questions. One thing that I found fascinating was that she doesn't watch television. She said she watched YouTube. I inquired more. She said that she likes to watching unboxing videos. I only heard boxing and held up my fist like a boxer and asked with my head turned sideways, "Like boxing videos?" She then shared, "No, unboxing videos." Hmmm.

So, I asked her to tell me more and she said that she liked to watch the people's reactions when they open boxes. I asked her if she liked a certain kind of product unboxing like cosmetics or clothes? She said no, not any particular product. She said that she especially liked watching people open Christmas presents. 

Reaction. I thought it was really interesting that she sought out videos of reaction. In reaction, emotion is authentic. So much social interaction can be confusing to all of us at times. One of the reasons that I love working with individuals with autism is that there is authenticity there. Emotion is clear. There are no facades to please or not to for others. One does not have to show Southern charm or be ladylike. 

So, I wondered could it be that in the authenticity of the reaction moments that my student with autism can intellectually process others emotions more clearly? Reactions are authentic (for the most part). Also, they are usually more animated emotions where one does not filter oneself to be more refined. Hmmm. So much research to do to understand our wonderful students with autism. And so, place?

What is my place is all of this? I tried to get into graduate school again to study autism and photography. With my students, I learned so much and connected with my students with autism through photography (when I taught in person). Virtually, students are not required to turn on their cameras. I don't know if they are paying attention and many days I feel as though I am talking to myself. Hence, it is so refreshing to meet one of my students in-person. To have a conversation with my student is such a delight!

My place? Well, this is my 19th year teaching PK-12 and I taught pre-service teachers at the college level as an adjunct. I didn't get into the MFA program. I wonder sometimes if I am not refined enough to be a scholar again. Perhaps, that is why the denial. Perceptions. I was hoping for some more formal training in the arts especially photography. I will keep researching and until then share stories. Perhaps, that is what I am suppose to do - share anecdotal stories that convey my teaching experiences. And so for now, my place, my community, is all virtual. Buttons, clicks, and lots of space bars. I press the keys to connect with other like-hearted socially awkward folks.

 

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