On the first day of Splash (this is my third year teaching at Splash, and my only constant has been chainmail,) I had one section of my intro autism course and one section of my chainmail course. The autism one was quite a refreshing change. No one thought a bleach enema was a good idea. No one thought that "autistic people are born autistic" and "vaccines cause autism" were somehow compatible. (They aren't, and vaccines don't cause autism.) The first question that I got when I mentioned that some people thought vaccines caused autism? "Why did they think that?" When I talked about how there was one study that got retracted for study fraud, the next question was who paid the doctor to do the study, and was it lawyers who possibly had a mother around wanting to sue? (As far as I know, that's pretty much what happened, though I don't have all the details.) Basically, I was dealing with people who thought science and logic still applied when dealing with autism. Some of the people I see on the internet get that science and logic still apply, but it was so refreshing to be in an environment where everyone got that these still work with how to raise autistic kids. They seemed genuinely interested in the "what do I do if someone is having a meltdown?" question. The answer was basically that if the person has told you how to handle their meltdowns before, do that no matter how counter-intuitive it may seem. If not, look for possible sensory triggers, and if there are any, get rid of those. Get rid of any possible situational triggers too. (If the person is still communicative, check to make sure those things are actually related to the problem.) Once as much getting triggers away from the person/getting the person away from the triggers as possible has happened, back off. Back way off. And people listened. I love it when people are actually willing to listen to what autistic adults have to say about autism, since it's kind of relevant. It was great.
The guessing activity went pretty well, too. They did slightly better at guessing who was and was not autistic than I guessed in that no one neurotypical got guessed to be autistic. (I had two neurotypical engineering students who wrote introductions of themselves.) They still managed to miss quite a few of the autistic people- neither of the autistic adults who had that "classic" autism diagnosis got guessed as definitely autistic, for example. That made for a pretty good teaching moment. One I went with, "If I told you that this person did not speak, only typed, would your answer change?" With that piece of information, everyone switched from thinking she was definitely not autistic to thinking she definitely was autistic, which was interesting and made the point about how a one paragraph introduction didn't actually give enough information to tell if a person was autistic or not. (OK, some of the paragraphs did, but those were the ones where some really obvious autism traits got mentioned.)
The chainmail (armor, not letters) class was also pretty good, except for the part where my classroom was next door to the class on trash can drumming. That was quite the literal headache. It also ran in the last time block of the night, from 8-10pm. Since I often go to sleep between 8 and 9, that's a late class! I'm actually writing this on the train to where I am sleeping between the first and second nights as I write this, and I'm writing this partially to help myself stay awake. I'm pretty tired, and tomorrow I have another section of my autism class and three more of chainmail. Then there is the teacher dinner and I get my tuchus back to school.