Friday, August 14, 2015

Don't Push Me Cuz I Am Close to the Edge.

Heres that explanation...sort of!
Oddly enough, You can’t force someone to do what they don’t want to do haha. So the 14 year old autistic kid that my fantastical story (in my last blog post) centered around retaught me this lesson and I have to say that it’s a very valuable one and it brings up a very important personal question. To manipulate or not to manipulate? But first, some back story. So like I said, the kid was extremely nice and super awesome to work with most of time. He was always pleasant and the only problem that we had with him was the fact that some days he just didn’t want to work with the clay. He was always excited about “time to art” (his words) but he didn’t always want to “art” with clay. After a his first visit, we realized that he really enjoyed drawing and writing/making list. He would create his own worlds and a lot of the time create a world where he was a shopkeeper (and customer) checking his inventory of majestical and ordinary objects. The first session went well, we got him to make a few things successfully and it held his attention; towards the end of that session, we all had freeze pops and had about 30 minutes of down time. Let it be known that each of his sessions were 4hrs and he had them about twice a week. Fast forwarding to about the 4th or 5th session, it seemed like all interest was lost in clay completely. For him, the fascination of clay was gone and he sort of got bored with it. On top of that he would never want to sit down because he was afraid of a few tiny bugs that would harmlessly fly around the studio (the doors were open for air circulation). He was at times extremely paranoid and would yelp when nothing was even there. Needless to say, things got a bit difficult. One day he was so disinterested and paranoid that after about 10 minutes with the clay the only thing he wanted to do was eat a freeze pop and draw on paper…at a clay studio. The staff that worked with him, consulted Abbie to see how we could reach through to him and calm him down. She suggested that we have him use a clay slab as sort of a drawing tablet and get him to work with clay in that way. He tried it, and pretty much hated it, and I don’t blame him, drawing on clay gives me a headache…But a week later he came in and was doing fine with some normal projects. We were pretty confused and were only able to chalk it up to the fact that some days he just wasn’t up for dealing with clay or being in the studio. We also noticed that he really just doesn’t commit to detail and “finishes” pieces very quickly so that he could move on to doing something else or what he wanted.

And so in reflection this sort of creates a rift between for me as a person and then me as a worker/intern/staff member that is representing a business. As an individual person I try my best to never coerce people and bribe people to do what I want them to do against their initial wants—and if I do, then I know it’s wrong. It’s sort of like overriding someone else’s true desires so that you can get your way or so that you can look good. In a way this is exactly what the team had to do with the client. We had to sneak and plot and pick at his brain just so that we could get him to do what we ( and his parents and aid) wanted him to. In a way I felt a bit dirty while doing it. We wanted to keep him as a costumer and in order for that to happen, he would have to produce work so that his parents/aid wouldn’t take him out. But then it also felt bit odd and dirty to allow them to pay for him to work with clay while we just give him what he wants, which was to work with a pen and paper while eating freeze pops. I guess in this case it’s sort of the case of “who knows what’s best for the child? The parent/adult or the child” (he was functioning on the level of about a 7 year old)?
This situation will always follow me into any partnerships, collaborative efforts, and Leadership rolls. While it’s a small, isolated incident, me being a larger thinker forces me to use this as an overarching and ongoing lesson. Am I ok with deception/games to get what I want despite other’s true desires? Oddly enough, we never really FORCED him to do anything, we only gently led him to do what he wasn’t too excited about. Unfortunately in the future when dealing with adults and peers, this issue may not be resolved so easily and the ethics of it all get ever more dramatic. Overall I think he did have a great experience with clay and our studio, he just needs to either work on focusing and completing a task, or have fewer/shorter sessions. Hopefully he comes back and we/they can help him with that.  :)

Until next post,

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