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Out in Front of and Behind the Veil

Last weekend we took the Ventura Hwy toward the sunshine!! The Ventura Art and Street Painting Festival was happening at their beautiful Harbor and I was a featured artist!!  WOW.  I am an Artist yet,  have always been shy about “labeling” myself as one.  My own labeling issue in a way. IMG_0846

 

My brother Kevin and my son Wyatt climbed into our road van (which also serves as our back-up hotel & event: chill zone.) Wyatt does enjoy traveling up and down the California coast and we’ve done it successfully pretty much every year of his life. Wyatt doesn’t truly enjoy Art and needs a soft spot to land while I attend to my artistic callings, so the van is essential.  Chalk and street art has become a fun hobby of mine over the last 10 years and as everyone knows is now a huge part of AutismHWY.com’s mission!! To celebrate our differences and to learn through our similarities artfully. Next year’s 5th AutismHWY.com Chalk Festival will be April 18th 2015. Chalk Art truly is infectious take a look!

 

The mission has been to encourage understanding through Information, Acceptance and Art. When I have the time to street paint myself, I create Autism Acceptance designs or I re-create designs crafted by Artists on the Spectrum. This trip I had chosen an exquisite design by Artist Nora Blansett. Nora’s work is also featured in the Art of Autism book I love so dearly. I really loved her explaination of the beautiful design I set out to share in Ventura and we printed this flyer to share with interested Art Festival attendees!

noraflyer  Saturday we arrived early afternoon and I began to set up the piece…IMG_0860Wyatt decided he was not interested in sitting and watching the process, so my brother and he went for a nice stroll and some lunch. Later to return to the “chill zone” of the Van. Being in Ventura on this weekend was a blessing as we were in a record breaking heat wave at home (90 miles away) coming in at 30 degrees hotter than the warm high 70′s at the harbor. After 4 hrs. of chalking I was ready to pack it up for the day making my way to the “chill-van.” My brother called me with a 911 voice and I could hear that the zone was no longer chill. As I weaved my way back, packing all of my supplies and etc. I realized that our Van was the focus of many people. Surrounded by the fire department the paramedics, patrol cars and major looky loos. Wyatt’s discomfort and self injurious aggressive communication had been in full force. People were either mad at my brother and didn’t know what was happening or just hovering as if they were at a crime scene waiting for answers. I wonder just how many cell phones called us in and what exactly they reported was happening?  This shows me just how little is known about my son’s condition and how we need to have an open dialogue about the way some Autistic people experience and cope with debilitating pain, anger and frustration.  IMG_0862Within a few minutes of my arrival and conversation with “Ventura’s finest emergency services” Wyatt de-escalated and everyone moved along. We checked into our wonderful hotel room and walked to a fantastic patio dinner. Wyatt had a restful night and awoke in a general good mood. We went back to the “scene of the crime” for day two of the Art event. Wyatt had a moment or two of hanging out with me before he again decided he wasn’t up for completion of the piece.IMG_0870So once again my ‘right hand uncle’ and Wyatt moved their chairs over to a shady berm at the edge of the harbor parking area. Another picnic lunch and “day at the beach” right? No, not exactly. After a little while I heard my boy and his painful scream. So I darted over to him quickly and began supporting him calmly. He was escalating rapidly and when he is past a certain point you can only move forward with it. The harbor patrol rolled up and stayed near by hesitantly as I explained to Wyatt I was there for him and supported him through his hard-core pain management. What I do not do is downplay his pain by telling him to get over it. I honor it calmly with firmness and resolve while keeping us both safe. If bruises happen, they happen. Again people just don’t know what to do…some stare, some glare. Some offer tokens or candy thinking this will distract Wyatt from his pain. Ahhh if it were only that simple. Truth be told stickers and mints aren’t his thing on a great day!red flag1red flags

 

I do appreciate people’s heartfelt concern.  The concern I can live without is tainted with judgement, fear and worse. When someone is raising their red-flags as my son will do, ask if you can call anyone for help, offer some cool water and allow the person space. Please do not judge and/ or insert yourself as if you are a CSI on the crime scene. Involving yourself uninvited will only inflame the situation. Understand that Autistic people can feel intense, sharp pain…physically and emotionally that can and will trigger, loudly.  Self injurious actions will help the person to cope with that pain and trying to restrain and stop this; is dangerous. It is a fact of life for many Autistics and their families. Finding the things that work to alleviate pain and frustration is the name of the game. Keeping a person feeling emotionally understood and safe is essential. Finding sensory comfort combinations will help relieve stress. If you feel frustrated just imagine how the aggressive communicator feels. Common sense strategies work miracles. Don’t sign your common sense over when it comes to Autism and aggression. Reach out to those that feel this pain, and have to cope in particular ways that you do not understand.  Ask questions, pay close attention and learn what is going on before you snap in judgement or snap and commit an irreversible action

 

The Harbor Patrol man named Hummer was very kind to Wyatt and I. Perhaps, Wyatt’s out loud expressions the day before had softened everyone’s edge. He admitted he had never seen anything like it and stood calm and clear as  once again Wyatt de-escalated with NO VEIL.  My brother brought the Van over to that shady berm and we were allowed access to park in the fire zone while Wyatt relaxed and I returned to hurriedly finished Nora’s amazing VEIL!

BTV

 

We can all start understanding, accepting and loving each other WITH all of our differences.

Allow people to be who they are behind a veil or loudly with out one.

Embrace the knowledge that we are all loving and sensitive souls just trying to navigate the waters in this age of excess.

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