Curating the Quirky Life #DisabilityStories

Today, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, the Kennedy Center’s Office of VSA and Accessibility, the National Archives, and many other agencies have been celebrating #DisabilityStories through a Twitter chat, various blogs, articles, and other virtual events.

As I’m surfing around looking at all these interesting sites and stories (see some of the links below), I’ve been thinking about how I could tell our story, museum-style. Museum curators frequently use objects to tell stories. This “material culture” provides physical evidence of the life and culture of a particular place, person, or time.

So, what objects – what kinds of material culture – would I use to curate an exhibit about life with my son? What are the things in our lives that stand out as shortcuts to describe some of what we do each day and how we interact as a family? What would a Quirky exhibit look like? Here’s what I’ve come up with so far: 


Diagnosis = Paperwork

Diagnosis = Paperwork.

Filing cabinets, binders, and I-really-ought-to-file-those piles of paper. 




Mom’s morning helper. 





Disney/Pixar and other favorite shows that are on constant repeat. On our TV. And in our brains.





A staple in the Quirky household since hands-over-ears began ca. 2004.





These lizards, sadly, are now extinct. These are the last pair known to exist. Since Target discontinued them ca. 2014, no other rubber lizard or snake will do. Beads have taken over as the favored spinning fidget.




Medications and supplements.

A rotating cache of pills and powders to help mitigate any number of issues. Some for him. Some for me.




Essential Condiments.

If the kitchen is without any one of these items, a grocery run is guaranteed.




Frogs (and one lizard).

A prime example of groupings of toys that must stay together, always and forever. Please, Do NOT Touch The Frogs.




Light switch.

Not to be confused with a light switch whose primary purpose is to send power to a light or a wall outlet. This one does that, too, but it’s main job is to stay in exactly this same position at all times. One up, one down. If someone else wants to use them for a different purpose, negotiation is necessary. 




Trampoline and Ball.

For sensory regulation, gross motor exercise, encouraging language production. And, fun. Mostly fun.



photo 1

Communication devices.

Despite advances in high-tech communication support options, the low-tech paper and pencil prompt seen here remains the best way we can communicate clearly with one another.



photo 2

Swimming supplies.

Goggles are mandatory, even if only worn on the forehead as a fashion statement.


How many of these reflect life at your house?

What item would be the centerpiece in your Quirky Museum’s exhibit?

Check out these great links for more #DisabilityStories and a celebration of the history and culture of disability in America:

National Museum of American History, #DisabilityStories

Kennedy Center’s Office of VSA and Accessibility

U.S. National Archives – Prologue: Pieces of History

EveryBody: An Artifact History of Disability in America

Disability History Museum

Museum of Disability History

“8 Ways in which the American Disabilities Act changed everyone’s lives”



  1. Anonymous · July 15, 2015

    B. and Connor have light switches in common.
    And, you forgot to include the wine.

    • stayquirkymyfriends · July 16, 2015

      Ha! I was planning to put wine in the pic with the coffee…until I saw I had NO wine. Guess I drank it. 😉

  2. Bright Side of Life · July 18, 2015

    Nice one…. lots of familiar stuff! 🙂

  3. dawn · July 20, 2015

    Cheerios. Plain, not flavored. Not store-brand or generic. The only acceptable substitute in a pinch is from Trader Joe’s.
    Sunglasses. They are large, dark, plastic all-purpose glasses, protecting the wearer’s eyes from sun, rain, snow, and scary or unfamiliar places.
    Pocket buddy. A Hot Wheels car, LEGO minifig, toy rocket, favorite-fidget-du-jour, anything that provides a comforting, grounding familiarity. It might or might not even fit in a pocket, but something comes with us everywhere, whether it is out of the house or in a different room at home.

    • stayquirkymyfriends · July 25, 2015

      A great list of “artifacts”! Always a fidget-du-jour in hand around here, plus extras in mom’s purse in case of loss or breakage!! 😉

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