Building Stilts and Resiliency

H built stilts yesterday.

His dad, Craig the Amazing, has offered to build some wooden ones with him, but apparently H couldn’t wait.stilts1

Here is his prototype…


Pretty cool, really…

Then one of them broke – or more like… tore.


I love it when H laughed and said, “That was unexpected!”

This is a window into his cognition. A reflection of his developing resiliency and flexible thinking… and too a reflection of the power of the support system we have created for this child. Resiliency and flexibility do not come naturally perhaps… but they are patterns of thinking that can be modeled, supported, and learned.

He then picked up his prototype and examining it queried, “Hmmm… I wonder what went wrong??

H is an inventor…


He asked me if I would blog about it.

“Do you want me to?”

“Sure! But Mo-om… do you like my stilts???”

I winked… “You mean ‘stilt’!”

“Aw… Mom!! Ya… maybe you should take a picture of how it broke…”

And we both smirk…

Today he is at it again… problem-solving, sticking to it, persevering, with time and space to pursue his interest and his passion.


And he found another way that didn’t quite work… that’s one less thing to wonder about…

stilts6This week it is stilts… I have no idea what it will be next. What I do know is that H’s explorations and inventions honour his strengths, interests, and learning style, and also give him the opportunity to learn about perseverance and resiliency.

Again… and again… and again…

These are the skills we all need to keep us moving ahead…


As I put the finishing touches on this post, I hear the rhythmic squeak, spring and click of the back door screen, the familiar clink and twang of tools in use, and the staccato refrain of sneakers on the basement stairs. Like the stirring of Lego in the bin, this too has become a calming music…

Related posts:
The Wing: Tales from an Autistic Childhood
Inventing and visual/spacial thinking: Got Milk??
Silliness and Invention at the End of a Long Week


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, (2013)

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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9 Responses to Building Stilts and Resiliency

  1. Colin Bowman says:

    Love it, all of it. On the practical side of inventing, PVA Glue (glue that builders mix into things and coat things with) is useful to add a bit of strength to materials, especially absorbent ones like wood or cardboard. And of course duct-tape: ducto ergo sum; I have duct-tape therefore I am.


  2. Karen Durant says:


    Sent from my iPad


  3. Stilts! They’re so much fun. I like being tall. Nice Job, H! 🙂


  4. Chou Chou Scantlin says:

    Happy New Year, Leah! You have a wonderful, hilarious, inventive, resourceful son in H! I haven’t had much time during the holidays to keep up with your doings, but every time I do, I smile:) XO!


  5. kermommy says:

    Hm, wonder if pvc pipe would work?
    Awesome design though.


  6. Mary says:

    Absolutely LOVE H’s ingenuity and problem solving and perseverance! The world NEEDS you, H! Thanks for showing us what goes on behind the scenes of a real inventor! (Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein would be proud – since this is the way they described their process, too!)


  7. Wendy says:

    “…. H laughed and said, “That was unexpected!” ”

    This was my favourite part!


  8. Pingback: Spice of life! | Thirty Days of Autism

  9. Pingback: The kid who knows who Stanley Kubrick is: Dreaming Big | Thirty Days of Autism

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