Friday, November 03, 2017

#autistichistorymonth Marcia; Greg; Stacy and Karen; wars through beyond into and under worlds

When I looked for war with the world, I saw a psychoanalyst who had read their Donna Williams, and learnt and inwardly digested.

This psychoanalyst, when she was a very young girl in the 1960s and 1970s, worked at the Orthogenic School.

Introducing Marcia - she was 10 years old; nearly 11 when she began to work with Karen Zelan who wrote Between their world and ours. The chapter I read was Self-revelations.

Bruno Bettelheim used Marcia quite a lot for his theory of the self and self-development.

What Zelan learnt to do differently was to take autistic voices seriously by taking them literally.

A good example of this was when she would talk to Stacy, who was younger and more conventionally verbal than Marcia was. Marcia was a person of few words and who saw verbality as an intrusion into her space.

Greg was the oldest and seemed to be the most sociable of the three - or his sociability was very modern. He would talk about video games and create animal stories as well as characterise and categorise animals as he had done for two years with Karen.

I remember when Stacy would say You are my Karen and you are your own Karen.

And Marcia would say you is you and me is me.

And Greg wrote a twenty-page story about a chimpanzee which reminded me of a Anthony Browne [British children's author] who would write about gorillas and other primates. I think the character involved in Browne was Willy.

Of course Dawn Prince would be mentioned somewhere here - Expecting Teryk and her other recent book are brilliant. And there is Songs of the gorilla nation which was released in the early to mid 2000s. Her connections with primates were primal and intellectual at the same time.

Look! Here's a Prince review from 2005 on Amazon.

Stacy liked to make physical connections to keep her self in check. She often felt like she was a very bad girl because her world was intense and she had big impulses.

Stacy created a new connected character who was a teacher. W. Okwell was this teacher. He was able to help her control her acting out in sessions and in school.

Other people Stacy created or improvised included this imagined family where she felt accepted and included as a member.

Objects like mops and brooms - like in Cinderella or Beauty and the Beast [especially the 2017 remake - think of when Belle was having her room re-arranged by Mrs Potts and the others and then the ball room when the Beast had to come] - were an essential part.

Stacy was taken care by the housekeepers. Lots of families might have home and community care for another member like an elderly member or a sibing. This is probably a good 21st century parallel for Stacy's experience.

She would often say to Karen You do not like dinner. And Karen was able to respond as Karen and say, I do like dinner.

Karen was able to make an important distinction between self as self and self as other.

Another important reading of Zelan's was The interpersonal world of the infant. The children were often six and seven years old when she worked with them first; and she developed intimate relationships through physical and intellectual and emotional and social connections in the milieu.

Daniel Stern said some very revolutionary things in the 1980s that people had not really known or told about babies and toddlers before.

And Zelan was able to get direct voice from Nobody Nowhere from Donna Williams in 1992 or soon after.

Two other later books Zelan might have benefited from [the Between our world and theirs was published in 2007 - three years or so after Howard Buten - a neo-Freudian who I like to keep around - despite Sophie Robert's Le mur / The wall] would be Exposure anxiety and The jumbled jigsaw.

When you meet Greg; Stacy and Marcia you see various versions and manifestations of Exposure Anxiety as well as the whole big picture of being autistic.

Zelan was particularly observant when she described the three children and their three reasons. Stacy was not into intensity; Marcia did not like intrusion - she experienced it as a threat - and Greg's reason was something about social life.

Back in 1982 Zelan had written a book with Bruno Bettelheim - On learning to read.

I hope to deal more with bibliotherapy and the use of books when I write about Dibs in search of self and non-directive play therapy and revisit Mr Rogers and his neighbourhood. Carl or Fred or maybe Carlfred Hybrid?

I also like another book of Zelan's called The risks of knowing and why children have their worthiness threatened by academic ways of knowing and knowledge. And other existential risks that they - and we - and you - and I - take and give.

I see that Thomas Armstrong of Neurodiversity fame quoted Zelan and Bettelheim in his book back in 2000. This was Learning to Read.

Zelan is very honest about how theory can be thorny and get in the way, especially when it came to Marcia and Greg.

Thank you Mama Fry for inspiring me to search about the concept of a war with the world which won't go away.

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