Hockey Rules and Other Opinions2 min read

Having opin­ions should not be a priv­i­lege, and yet for so many it is.

In my world, every­thing is just a little more intense than yours. Lights are so bright. Noises are so loud. Smells are so, well, smelly. The term “sen­sory over­load” gets thrown around a lot with autism, but you haven’t expe­ri­enced sen­sory over­load until you’ve been to an NHL game.

This winter I went to my first hockey game. You know the deep rumble of thunder? That is like a whisper com­pared to the crowd at the Caps game. You know the annoying tone of a car alarm? That is like a lul­laby com­pared to their game horn. When you hear people talking about bright lights, they all pale next to the ice house flashing strobes.

Despite the inten­sity, the expe­ri­ence is on my top ten list.

Before my ability to com­mu­ni­cate with a key­board, no one would believe a kid who wears noise blocking head­phones around the clock would love the mayhem of a packed arena. I might never have expe­ri­enced the magic of ice hockey.

Being able to tell people what I truly think has changed my life (though my dad now has to deal with me clap­ping back when he dishes out snark), and I can’t imagine going back to a time when I only had my nat­ural speech doing a poor job of telling my thoughts.

For so many other autistic kids, having access to real com­mu­ni­ca­tion is com­pletely out of their reach. Having opin­ions should not be a priv­i­lege and yet for so many it is.

About the time I fig­ured out that I could spell com­plex ideas, I also really made the con­nec­tion that I am not unique in this ability. I look around my school and cry on the inside because I know every kid there is smart. Why shouldn’t they have the same com­mu­ni­ca­tion teaching I had?

Until the schools alter their view of autism to make the leap from needing to be fixed to just needing to be taught how to com­mu­ni­cate, opin­ions will remain the priv­i­lege of us few lucky non­speaking autis­tics who can type.

Bearing that priv­i­lege in mind, here is my opinion. Stop drilling kids on use­less, repet­i­tive “mands” and teach them to spell.



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1 Comment

  1. This is a really good take. I have the same sen­sory expe­ri­ences; Things are more tol­er­able when they’re things we like. For me, loud music, motor­sport, hockey games and gaming or animé con­ven­tions, are just a couple of things I can take.

    The Canucks here are also pretty good at accom­mo­dating autis­tics. The owner has an autistic son and cre­ated his own orga­ni­za­tion, and if need be there are ser­vices avail­able for those on the spec­trum to give them an enjoy­able expe­ri­ence. I find I don’t need them but it’s a nice ges­ture. I recently went to a game for the first time in a few years and I just soaked every­thing in; the goal horn, the flashing lights on the stan­chions, etc… In these sit­u­a­tions it’s really cool.

    I also find it’s easier to tol­erate when you’re focused on what’s hap­pening around you. As well as being a Canucks fan I also vol­un­teer for a local junior A team as their offi­cial scorer on game days. The chal­lenges are sim­ilar; goal horns, loud cheering in a smaller arena, trying to not miss a whistle when it gets a little rowdy, etc… I’ve found that the addi­tional focus that comes with combing over every detail of the game means I’m locked in and thus the sounds around me don’t phase me so much.

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