Canada – Marion Pusey contacted us here at Autism Daily Newscast as she wanted to share with us her resources that she has made for individuals with autism and their families, as well as telling us a little about her son Eric, now aged 30 who has autism. This is part 2 of our interview with Marion and Part 1 can be read here.
Marion then went on to tell us about Eric’s fascination with water slides and that this all started when she first took him on an outing with the Beavers.
“On one of our outings with the Beavers, we went to a wave pool with a big water slide. Eric kept on pulling at my leg and pointing to the water slide. I did not know at the time that Eric could not “generalize” ie. whatever happens to other people coming off the water slide will happen to him. I decided that with Eric`s interest still there after watching about 30 people going under water at the bottom of the water slide, that I could double ride with him, holding him up at the bottom of the slide. …Well…we both went under water. All the way home, Eric kept repeating two brand new words “NOT FAIR !! NOT FAIR !!”
“Water slides has become one of Eric`s intense interests. He can draw them to photographic detail and quality.”
Marion used Eric`s intense interest in water slides as a learning tool to grow and expand on. In fact his love of water slide parks and amusement parks in general, Marion told us is so strong that he took courses at college so that he can design and build them.
Eric`s other savant skills include math and music and he started to play the piano, with perfect pitch without a single lesson.
However these early years of Eric’s life were not easy and the teachers did not understand about autism. Marion was not allowed to go in to help Eric and the teachers did not adapt how they taught, for example with the use of visuals. Due to this, Marion explained that;
“Eric became extremely aggressive,becoming a danger to himself and everyone around him. He would be sent home ie. expelled from school at least once or twice a week, if not more because of ” violence tolerance” !!!”
The Children`s Aid Society told Marion that they could only intervene in an extreme crisis.
“That crisis happened when we changed a routine slightly and Eric attacked his younger brother. I peeled Eric off his brother, then Eric continued attacking me. Eric`s brother ran upstairs and called “911”.Eric was taken to our local children`s hospital. All the doctors and Eric`s Neurologist would do is “drug him out” and send him home or I could take him to the Robert Smart Center.”
Eric spent a week at the Robert Smart Center and was then transferred to “the Cottage Program” which was a part of the Royal Ottawa Hospital where he spent 6 weeks. The staff knew nothing about autism.
During this time the Children’s Aid Society found a placement for Eric with Bairn Croft Residential Services that specialize in children and young adults who are on the autistic spectrum. Marion told that under Bairn Crofts care and guidance during the last 15 years, her son has flourished. He is now living semi-independently and he graduated from the Precision Machining Technology Program at Algonquin College. However sadly, Eric has been unable to find work that he is qualified to do.
“Unfortunately the job world is very hard and non-accepting of people with disabilities. Eric tried on his own to get a job but could not get past the job interview. The Ontario Government has a program to aid in helping people with disabilities to get the necessary job skills, resumes, matching employers with employees with disabilities, job shadows, etc. … The only place that would accept Eric was McDonalds which he has worked for the last five years.”
However, Marion explained to us that Eric is very happy and indeed very proud of his achievements and that she too is extremely proud of him.
It is because of these many experiences in raising Eric and helping look after her mother who had Parkinson`s, Alzheimer`s and Demetria that Marion became a Visual Resource Provider with Picture Card Communication.
“I create and make visual communication products as a resource for people who may be non-verbal, minimally verbal or need a way to express their wants and needs.”
Marion explained to us that most children with Autism Spectrum Disorders are visual learners and that an objects or picture, once seen, continues to give information for as long as the child needs to look at them.
Marion ends by saying that these children need consistency and routine.
“Visual schedules can provide these. Visual schedules can also help to provide visual cuing to transition from one activity to the next. Learning new information, activities, skills, etc. must be broken into small steps which can be done with the help of visual sequences.”
Marion also adds that If you think visual materials may help you or your child then you can get in touch with her via:
You can view Marion’s Pinterest board here
We would like to thank Marion for taking the time to share her story with us.