Friday, February 1, 2008

Cardboard Ingenuity

It's not uncommon for people with autism to become known for creative genius. They view the world differently than the rest of us, so sometimes it seems that individuals with ASD are the only ones equipped to solve certain problems. Maybe in this scenario a neuro-typical kid could have solved the same problem, but still I couldn't help but be impressed when my nine year old with autism thought "outside of the box" to get into one.

Every time we get a package of some kind, my five year old claims the box. He can spend hours painting, decorating and just playing inside of the box. The big boxes become clubhouses. I keep them around for a time and then they just disappear. My little guy knows what happens to those boxes, which means I always have some explaining to do.

I was dubious about his latest prize and his hope that it would be come the next clubhouse. The box was made to hold artwork. While it might be about three feet high, it was only two inches wide.

"There is no way you can make a clubhouse out of this," I said after both boys helped me get the painting out of the box by holding on to the other end.

They were insistent, however, that this skinny box would make a suitable dwelling. My nine year old was especially adamant. 'I guess he really does belong in special education," I thought with a sigh.

The only possibility I saw was a box with two parallel windows so that they could crawl through the hole. There was no way they could get their little bodies into that narrow box. Or so I thought.

My little one showed me where to cut. I used a steak knife to carve out two rudimentary windows and then went upstairs to sort laundry. When I came downstairs with a basket of dirty clothes, there was a surprise standing up in the middle of the living room--a clubhouse.

"Who did that?" I asked my five year old.

"He did," my son replied nodding towards his brother.

The clubhouse wasn't the rectangular sort that I used to make with my friends out of the huge boxes that we were known to beg from the local furniture store.

Instead, what I saw was a cardboard tent. My son took off the bottom of the box and separated the sides so that there was a big enough space for both him and his brother.

Later he surprised me some more by folding out a couple of inches of the bottom of one side to make "a front porch." He also initiated the making of a sign that the boys taped to their dwelling.
What did the sign say? Home Sweet Home.
My son has been surprising me a lot to the point I probably should not be surprised anymore. I guess I had no idea he had spatial ability. Usually his blocks and legos do not get played with unless his little brother gets them out. Experiments with three-dimensional projects are brand new for him. I'm not sure from whom my guy received his skill to transform 3-d objects. It certainly wasn't me...


Elissa - Managing Autism said...

What a great job he's done to construct the clubhouse!

I'm often left surprised with what J comes up with.. quite often he leaves me speechless!

J said...

Thanks, he worked pretty hard on it. Hopefully our boys will continue to surprise and delight us. : ) Take care--jml.