Last weekend, our family went to an event for families who have loved ones on the autism spectrum. It was set up like a carnival and had lots of interactive things for people of all ages to try.
One of the activities Dude tried was a station where you could create your own avatar. You know those Xbox Kinect games like “Just Dance”? You pick a character, move around, and the motion sensors from the gaming system pick up your movements and translate them to the character on the screen. It’s pretty neat technology.
At this particular avatar station, you got to select your background, your character, and the speed of your voice since there was a voice recording/modulation component.
There were about 15 backgrounds to choose from. Without hesitation, Dude selected Citizens Bank Park.
For his character, he chose bacon. Because bacon.
And finally, Dude chose the slowest, lowest voice setting because slow-mo things never fail to make him laugh.
When it was Dude’s turn to step into the station, the people running it told us he first had to do the recording of whatever it was he wanted to say.
Our parents and I exchanged glances as I guided Dude to the mic. “What should we get him to say?” we asked each other.
The thing that’s sometimes frustrating about Dude is that we know he can do something, but because of his mood, the sensory environment, the alignment of the planets, etc., he doesn’t, and by consequence, people who don’t know him that well underestimate his abilities. I hate it when people underestimate him as soon as they hear the word “autism.” It’s one of my pet peeves.
Even though Dude is perfectly capable of speaking in short phrases and saying things that make him giggle, we were convinced he wasn’t going to perform in the somewhat overwhelming environment.
In the midst of trying to decide what to get him to say, Dude, ignoring us and completely understanding what he was supposed to do, bent down towards the mic and, without hesitation, chanted, “Let’s Go Phillies!!!” And then switched his voice and said in slow-mo, “Let’s go Phiiiilllllllll.” (He has a habit of dropping off the ends of words.)
Mom, Dad, and I looked at each other and then at Dude, shocked and delighted. Dude looked at us like, “What? Of course I’m cheering for my team. Duh, guys.”
He then recorded the movements for his avatar (with some help from me), and now we have a video of a piece of bacon waving its arms around in Citizens Bank Park chanting, “Let’s Go Phillies!”
Bonus story: Turns out Dude is really good at spelling. There was an iPad game/app that showed you a photo and blank circles for how many letters were in the word. You had to decide what the word was, and then pick up the correct letters and put them in front of the iPad to spell the word. We knew Dude can read sight words really well, but he was nailing the spelling with minimal assistance from us. Go Dude!