Ummm… if I don’t return – please know I am in good company…
And so begins another laid-back Sunday afternoon at our house:
H is patiently schooling me in Portal: explaining the premise and navigating the game with fluid and deft confidence.
As it turns out – the physics do make sense, H explains, once you understand the function of the portal gun. It is a little like breaking the time/space continuum…
Using the portal gun to create doorways, he leaps from place to place and anticipates ways to move himself and other items through dimensions and space.
He even demonstrates infinity… as a never-ending portal loop.
I can easily recognize that I am out of my league, but I sit back and enjoy the tour, happy (and somewhat relieved) to be an enthusiastic apprentice or co-pilot.
I am in awe of H’s ability to navigate this world and deal with the complexities of multiple spacial perspectives and to orient himself in space and dimension… and then rather eloquently explain it all to me.
I am impressed with the planning and understanding required and at how easily he navigates this.
This is executive function at its best!
I commented, “Wow, I am blown away with your skill and ability to understand and anticipate what your actions will do and how spaces are connected with the portal gun. Hmmmmm…” (wheels turning) “This seems similar to the kind of thinking I use in navigating the social world!”
H seemed surprised and curious, “Really???”
At this point we paused the game for a few minutes and we had an interesting discussion about the ways that social interactions are like playing Portal, and how some of his gaming skills might be of use when he is feeling overwhelmed.
Some of his strengths in this game are exactly the skills we often assume he is lacking… (ya… I know!)
I shared my observation, “I can see how you have to think about what you will do ahead of time and plan ahead in the game”
We explored what not planning would do in the game – and how he is not just randomly or impulsively pressing buttons to get a reaction or because he is uncertain what else to do.
H elaborated, “Our movements fling us forward or can drop us into toxic waste…”
And then I could see the wheels turning as he made the rather powerful connection that the planning and understanding of action and response in Portal is similar to the thinking that is helpful to use in social situations. H seemed quite taken aback at the similarities, and I was too.
“Mom… I think Portal is kinda like relationships…”
H is a metaphorical thinker, like me, so he really understood this. There was more to our conversation – but the thing is I have a new understanding of my son and I think he may have a few new understandings as well – and we had fun together!
We now have a framework for connecting ideas and concepts and talking about the social world, and a metaphorical construct to assist and support our discussion in unwinding and demystifying social complexities.
Today I had a chance to see my son’s abilities from a different angle, and we were able to collaborate to frame these skills in a way that might help him have a greater understanding of his movements and planning in social interactions. It may even be that this supports him to generalize his skill in a new way and make his thinking about challenging environments a bit easier.
If the tables were turned… I would clearly be lost in the Portal world.
Now that is an interesting shift of perspective; I am fortunate that my lack of these skills is not generally considered a deficit in my functioning.
But what if it were…
Note: Portal Loop Image Credit: http://www.funnyjunk.com /Portal Gun Image Credit: thinkgeek
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)