Hockey Rules and Other Opinions

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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One Response

  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 anime 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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