The Star Wars Connection to ASD: Episode I
According to Wikipedia, "Star Wars is an American epic space opera franchise conceived by George Lucas. The first film in the franchise was originally released on May 25, 1977, under the title Star Wars, by 20th Century Fox, and became a worldwide pop culture phenomenon."
I never told George Lucas this, nor did he ask, but it was because of Star Wars that I discovered my son, Doug, and many other people with ASD have inner ear and equilibrium issues when it comes to watching movies on a big screen.
The date was probably May 26th or 27th, 1977. The first Star Wars was in theatres everywhere and the media hype had been enormous. The merchant's shelves were bare of the millions of Star Wars toys that had been snatched up by willing parents. I was one of them. My two children and I couldn't wait to see this most publicized movie. It was an epic of good against evil - what more could a parent want? With Doug's Wintergreen LifeSavers® in one hand and carrying his favorite rubber monkey, we entered and snuggled in for a two-hour pop cultural event. Or so I thought.
Twenty minutes into the long-awaited event and two twirly-whirly Jedi maneuvers, Doug abruptly stood up and announced to all of those around us that he felt like throwing up. We rushed out. Not to worry, we saw the very first Star Wars on our own television - enhanced version, of course, some 33 years later.
I don't proclaim to be a Star Wars expert (they are "followers" of particular characters), but I do like many of the quotes from the movies. I've taken some of the famous quotes and adapted them to ASD. See what you think. Add some of your favorite quotes. Who are your favorite characters?
(Also, did you know that Mary Meinel, who played in the television series "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," has Asperger's syndrome? She is married to Jerry Newport. It's an interesting story that I plan to blog about someday.)
Quote #1: "Fear is the path to the Dark Side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering." - Yoda, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
One of my Ten Laws of Success for Children with Autism is "Fear is Not an Option." Fear will suffocate success. That's advice to the SLP, the parent and to anything one wants to achieve in life. Try novel strategies with children with ASD. Don't be afraid. Don't follow a program or a recipe. Many recipes fail, be it in the kitchen or in a therapy setting. Many parents I have met over the years are angry that their child has ASD and if they don't see progress, that anger leads to hate and misunderstanding. Yes, hate can lead to suffering for everyone on the team.
Quote #2: "Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force." - Yoda, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
Live today. Surround yourself with other professionals who know and are willing to learn about ASD. Don't get caught up in one program - there IS no one program that fits all children with ASD. Cut - slice - add - subtract - transform - make yourself a Force for children with ASD.
Quote #3: "Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid." - Han Solo, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
Say it again, Harrison Ford. Some programs for ASD treat themselves as a religion and they have their followers. As SLPs we need to have a working knowledge of each program but my loyalty stops there. I follow the program of Common Sense and that, kid, is a "good blaster at your side."
Quote #4: "Truly wonderful the mind of a child is." - Yoda, Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
Yoda could use some therapy for syntax, but I would never challenge his wisdom. I have never met a child with ASD who could not learn no matter how severe the disability had him by the neck. That is not to say that all children learn at the same rate because it depends on their cognitive ability, but they ARE all capable of learning. Yes, Yoda, the mind of a child is truly wonderful.
Quote # 5: "Always in motion is the future." - Yoda, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
So many parents ask me about the future for their child with ASD, and I know they ask you, too. I feel for their concern but I always ask them if we know about the future for anything or for their other children. They like to hear about my own son's success and how he got there. I re-focus these questions back to immediate concerns, goals, and behaviors that need to be addressed for future success in adulthood. That is why it is so important for the SLP to know about ASD in adults.
In next week's blog, Star Wars Connection to ASD: Episode II, I'll have six more famous Star Wars quotes and how they link to ASD.
"Speech pathologists make good things happen.