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  • Jack H

"You need to take me to the sweet hot tub. And give me fries"

When people think of a kid with autism they usually imagine either a kid who overreacts to every little thing or a kid who doesn't react to anything. But what most people do not realize is that these two conditions are not mutually exclusive. Take Calder for instance. Calder suffers from hypersensitivity to texture and sound. Calder also suffers from hyposensitivity to his bodily senses and cues. If I move my arm really quickly through the air I can feel the air moving out of the way. Calder, on the other hand, cannot. Part of this is due to a condition called hypotonia. People who suffer from hypotonia, like Calder, have decreased muscle tone, issues with developing motor skills, and trouble with the Central Nervous System transmitting sensory information. Hypotonia is one of the reasons why Calder often flops around like a rag doll. He doesn't seem to know where he is in the space surrounding him.

That said, Calder does not let this condition define him. He knows that hypotonia limits the activities that he can do, but rather than sitting down and pouting, Calder looks on the bright side. Activities such as swimming are always fun, but for Calder, they provide an additional benefit. When Calder is in a hot tub or pool, he can feel the water pushing back against him. The water provides a higher level of resistance than air, so Calder can feel the force more definitively. He's a great swimmer, and he especially enjoys spending his time in a hot tub wherever he can find one. Moreover, he likes to show off how independent he can be in the water and while everyone's first instinct is to rush to his side and hold him as he maneuvers through the water, Calder will actively push you away. He can trust his body in the water and he wants us to trust him.

While soccer or baseball requires a lot of motor planning and coordination, Calder has created his own sport. We call it the Ultimate Furniture Championship. Calder has gotten into pushing chairs across the tile floors. He's half sat, half carried a chair in our front entry all the way to the back of the house. He also loves to turn ottomans on their side, lay across them, and roll them around as if they were logs and he is riding them. Couch cushions are not only weights to be lifted off of the sofa, they're crash pads for Calder to toss himself onto when he's done. When Calder pushes something heavy like a chair, he creates an artificial resistance from the friction. This higher resistance level allows Calder to feel sensations stronger than he would otherwise. It's like a reverse pressure that tells him where is in space and where the furniture piece is. And if it gives Calder as much happiness as his face would suggest, I am completely fine with our house looking like an obstacle course of chairs.

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