Autism and Asperger Articles, Bill Stillman, Award-Winning Author

Demystifying Autism From The Inside Out

Gettin’ Real

By Melissa Travis

When my boyfriend, Shawn, and I started dating we were watching TV and agreed that we could go for a snack. All I had in the cupboard at the time was popcorn, not microwave popcorn but a bag of unpopped popcorn kernels. I suggested that we pop some popcorn. He had never had popcorn this way and looked at me as if I suggested that we jump off the Emlenton Bridge. I explained that I knew exactly what I was doing because that is how my mom popped popcorn when I was a child. After a short persuasion he conceded and said he would help. I showed him how much vegetable oil and popcorn to use and we fired up the stove. I explained how to keep the pan slightly above the heat source and how it was important to keep the pan moving constantly by gently shaking it. Soon enough it started to pop furiously. This seemed to amaze Shawn and piqued his interest about this popcorn shenanigan; so much that he momentarily lost his common sense and decided to take the lid off of the pan! Just as he was doing this I realized that I forgot to tell him "Keep the lid on" and shouted "NOOOOO!!!!!" Well, needless to say, the popcorn popped up toward his face and he was caught off guard and let go of the pan. He jumped back so fast and hard he landed on his butt on the floor. I hurriedly took the pan off of the heat and tried to ask if he was okay but I could not stop laughing. It did not take too long before he started laughing too! We shared a good laugh and eventually popcorn together!

So you may be thinking this is a nice story and all but, what is your point? My point is that when Shawn and I put our guards down and became vulnerable we allowed ourselves to be transparent or "real". This helped our relationship grow and become stronger. One might say we bonded. Neither of us did anything but be ourselves and allowed someone else to experience who we were. You too have probably done this a thousand times with your family and friends. But have you done it with the individuals we serve? If not, you can! Just be yourself and allow the individuals to be themselves and I bet you will end up having a good laugh together too!

Melissa holds a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood / Elementary Education from Clarion University of Pennsylvania and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree from Clarion in Speech Language Pathology. She also works as an Autism Coordinator for a Residential Program (New Light Inc.) in Western Pennsylvania. Melissa lives in Sligo, Pennsylvania.

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