By Alice J. Wexler (auth.)
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Extra info for Art and Disability: The Social and Political Struggles Facing Education
I had been doing this about four months when one day Elly happened to make five little sounds, ending with a rising intonation— ah-ah-ah-ah-AH! That was easy to imitate, and I did so. But this time, unlike all the others, Elly imitated me again. I imitated her back. She laughed. I tried two more sounds, choosing the explosive ba-ba and la-la she had learned from Joann and never forgotten. She imitated them at once. I then risked all and said “eye,” the word she’d learned so well and then abandoned.
To need is to relate. (p. 6) Like Grandin, Jessy was blessed with a loving family and particularly a mother who was unwilling to leave her in self-absorbed indifference, tirelessly looking for the spark that would ignite her interest. She experimented with a myriad of inventive and spontaneous games that Jessy did not respond to until—as if out of nowhere—six weeks or six months later. Park describes the patience she needed to parallel play with Jessy as she endlessly repeated the same games, gestures, or shapes.
Without emotional investment, children will make art work that is obligatory, f lat, and formulaic, and they will be unaffected by what they do. In whatever diminished condition it might be, the body is, nevertheless, the most accessible point of departure from which children extend further out into the world. When art is made under compelling conditions, it strengthens the structure of self and creates a world, if only for a moment, outside the reach of external forces that thwart personal development.