Messages from the fridge: dreams, strategies, and coping skills

Sometimes our fridge almost scares me. It is like intervention central. It can feel like it’s out of control and taking over the house – but it is also the hub of the house and it keeps us moving forward.

It is really a giant day planner that also happens to keep our food cold.

When company is coming I attempt to rein it in and make it look more aesthetically pleasing. I will sort out what is not needed, straighten the art work and visual strategies and supports, throw out the past-user-date coupons, and then I hit a point of resignation.

This is our fridge: it is like a finger print (or perhaps more a finger painting) for our family. It is uniquely ours and represents so much about us and our dreams and our beliefs and our hopes and our priorities. It stretches us to new goals and reminds us of our accomplishments, and even has a gallery of photo memories.

The inside of the fridge holds sustenance of course – but the outside sustains us as well. It supports H and our family: it nourishes us, it gives us a plan to follow, it reminds us of the skills that are important and helps us maintain focus. It is a visual representation of the work we are doing with H and the hard work he is doing as well.

It is a monolith multi-layered visual plan which in a way it keeps all of us on track                     – not just H.

There is so much we are learning from H and our journey with him. Our fridge is a monument to our love and the way that we make intervention just an-everyday-all-the-time as automatic-as-breathing (or eating) way of being. We are using these supports daily. Right now the Cycle of Social Success from Michelle Garcia Winner’s Social Thinking site is particularly useful. However, in the rush of every day real world life, interventions can be forgotten or overlooked. Keeping the supports that we need on hand, blended with some amazing positive messages may not be pretty but it works. It can seem messy and disorganized, but oooohhh – our guy is a visual learner, like so many children on the Autism spectrum, and it is sooo very worth it!

Tip: laminated supports can easily have magnets added to them. Collect free advertising magnets from the pizza place or your friend’s fridges. Tape them with packing tape to the back of the  item – tape right over them. Even the weakest of  magnets will still stick through a layer of tape. If you do not have a laminator, you might consider page protectors from the dollar store. They usually come 10-15 to a package.


30 Days of Autism is a project designed to fight stigma, promote civil rights, and increase understanding and acceptance for those who process and experience the world differently.

© Leah Kelley, Thirty Days of Autism, (2011)

About Leah Kelley, Ed.D.

Leah Kelley, M.Ed, Ed.D., Writer, Consultant, Activist, Speaker, and Educator, working with Teacher Candidates at UBC. Authors blog: 30 Days of Autism. Projects support social understanding, Neurodiversity paradigm, Disability Justice, and connecting Disability Studies in Education(DSE)to Educational Practice. Twitter: @leah_kelley Facebook: 30 Days of Autism: Leah Kelley
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6 Responses to Messages from the fridge: dreams, strategies, and coping skills

  1. Omg I love it, how ‘normal’ I feel in discovering that somebody else has a fridge just like mine lol. Visual time-tables, appointments, reminders and visual aids slowely take over my life.
    Love it and have tweeted.


  2. C. H. says:

    I really like the part about the inside holding sustanance and the outside sustaining….I think of the fridge in my childhood home the same way. Any time my Mom would put some of my school work or a drawing that I did, that helped my sense of self worth and confidence grow. In some ways the outside was more important to me than the inside. 🙂


  3. We can’t do that anymore, cause the new stainless steel fridges aren’t magnetic. I do have a bulletin board over my laptop that I use to display calendars, reminders, special artwork, etc. I love your magnet that says, “When I count my blessings, I count you twice!” That’s very sweet. Lovely blog!


  4. wendy says:

    Love it, we used to do that with our fridge. Brilliant idea. I love it is a monument to your journey

    Now we use a notice board


  5. Sharon J says:

    Gotta love a messy looking fridge. I have two – one’s covered with fridge magnets from places we’ve visited and the other’s covered in a mish-mash of all sorts.

    Debbie’s comment was interesting. I shan’t be getting a stainless steel fridge.


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