At work this afternoon I covered for my colleague Kyle during his lunch break. This involved hanging out with a twelve-year-old boy with autism.
Although he’s non-verbal (he doesn’t use words to communicate), he’s very expressive and good at letting people know what he wants. When he comes to our project he has a playworker with him all the time to make sure he has fun and stays safe. While Kyle had his lunch I took on this role, with Fran as my support worker.
We had a great time, but for the whole half hour I was playing with him he was trying to get me to stand up without any help. He did this in a variety of ways in a relentless quest to get me out of my wheelchair. It was like being with an extremely strict physiotherapist.
If I knelt on the floor, he’d pull me up.
If Fran supported me, he’d lead her to a nearby bench and make her sit down.
If I sat in my chair, he’d try to pull me out, and if I grabbed onto something for stability he’d move me away from it.
He wasn’t rough, but he was very insistent.
Fortunately all of this was taking place near a swing so there was loads of bark on the floor which meant when I fell over it wasn’t dangerous or painful.
By the time Kyle got back from lunch I was exhausted. I really enjoyed spending time with this young man and I found his preoccupation with me standing up funny and fascinating.
But I was relieved to be able sit down at last.