Pockets full of rocks!! River walks and rainy day ideas

We had an amazing and somewhat rainy walk by the river today…

You might be able to picture Craig and I sharing brief exchanges as we sidestepped the wettest of the puddles, interrupted by H’s excited and typically non sequitur chatter, and accompanied by our happy, bounding labradoodle!

muddy boots

pockets full of rocks

small moments

with lots of space for thinking big ideas

I like that!

By the time we got home – we were hungry for a late lunch. Craig prepped the lunch and some hot chocolate for H, whilst I bathed a very muddy but contented dog.

We emptied our pockets of the rocks. Mine were as full as H’s, perhaps even more so. My boy and I both find the lure of rocks irresistible. The weight, the feel, the texture, all combine to create this kind of reassuring perfection. H has always weighted his own clothing with pebbles and rocks – and I would be misleading you if I didn’t admit that I almost always have a rock or two in my pocket as well.

The kitchen table is now home to two bowls of river rocks and pebbles which we plan to toss into the tumbler tomorrow. It takes a few weeks and a number of steps to polish them as they need to be processed through stages with increasingly fine polishing material… but treasure emerges from this almost magical process.

The rest of the day unfolded rather uneventfully… which for me made a perfect Sunday.

Before H went to bed tonight – I really wanted to connect with him and reinforce positive messages about who he is at this very moment. My thoughts have lately been occupied with the meaning behind the messages that are at times unintentionally given to our children.

H has long known he has autism, and that it is a part of who he is. He knows that he thinks differently, and that this is not a bad thing. I want my son to feel that he can embrace being autistic and feel proud of all of the parts of himself this very day.

For the first time tonight I talked to him about being autistic without using person first language. I said, “You are autistic – you think differently – and I want you to know that you are amazing and wonderful just the way you are!”

H’s response to my lack of person first language was interesting:

“What do you mean?  I am autistic! Is that an insult?” (No guile or attitude here – just a real question from a data collecting guy.)

“Oh no – not at all! It is like me having curly hair… It is just a part of who I am – the way I was born – just like having autism or being autistic is a part of you! You think differently and there is nothing wrong with that and I want to tell you that I think you are a spectacular boy.”

“Oh… thank you Mom!”

I think you feel things more deeply than many people – and I notice that it is a beautiful thing about you. I want you to feel that you are accepted and it is good to be you. I want you to be happy – and I think there have been times when it has been unfair for you because you got in trouble for thinking the way you do. I don’t think you should be in trouble for being autistic and for thinking differently. I want you to feel proud of who you are.

Earlier in the day H had queried why we needed to polish the rocks: “Mom – we don’t need to polish them – they are already beautiful.”

That resonates with me on a deeper level.

My child has much to learn – like every child. We need to support him in learning to make his way so that he can be happy in this world – and as much as possible the lessons that he learns should be delivered in a way that honour the wonderful young man that he already is! He is beautiful already – without the rough spots tumbled out!

I don’t expect I got this completely right today and I am still figuring it out in my own head. However… I am pretty certain I am on the right path. Additionally, my account of our conversation is awkward – and it does not capture the tone, hugs, giggles and acceptance that H and I shared.

Next steps… next steps… hmmmmm

Please note: I wrote this post in mid-March, but it has been a busy spring and it took me a while to get back to it… I am just now getting around to publishing it, as I think some of the ideas will be relevant to H’s and my journey to the  Arizona TASH Summer Conference in Phoenix Next week: June 13 -14, 2012. (Oh my, we leave in 5 days!!)


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, (2012)

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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7 Responses to Pockets full of rocks!! River walks and rainy day ideas

  1. Wonderful! Love the – Mom why do we need to polish these rocks, they’re beautiful the way they are – statement. What a wise son you have, sounds a lot like his Mom.


  2. A Quiet Week says:

    I love to collect rocks myself! Seeing your pretty pebbles cheered my heart. As did this quote:

    “I want my son to feel that he can embrace being autistic and feel proud of all of the parts of himself this very day.”

    I feel the same way about my son. And although my mother did not know about my autism until I grew up, she embraced my “quirkyness” and managed my anxiety with the utmost respect and care. Thank you for being an awesome parent and example for others!



    • Leah Kelley says:

      Yay ~ A fellow rock hound!
      Your mother sounds like she must have been very supportive. I hope that someday H looks back as has a similar perspective to yours… it has me placing my steps very carefully indeed. Thank you, Lori, for your lovely comment, encouragement, and support.


  3. coyotetooth says:

    Being the son-of-a-geologist that I am . . . I am a closet rock junky. Don’t tell my father, rest his soul (and hope the rocks in his pockets didn’t weigh him downward). I love learning from your children too . . .


  4. What a sweet soul H has. Beautiful.


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