Ch. F: Klumsy Kat, But Only When Anxious (1st 8 pp.)

Klumsy Kat has multiple disabilities/ differences, which actually increases her lovableness to everyone in the Coppola home (even the mom, albeit briefly), including Aspie Mouse, who requested her presence. This relatively short chapter (16-18 pp.) has no villain (like Chapter E), although the rats that invade #83’s house (formerly Mr. Nakamura’s) do need to be “removed.” A female cat with multiple disabilities who plays with Aspie Mouse, gets AM’s help to reduce anxiety and thus clumsiness. However, Claire Coppola is apparently allergic to KK, so the cat needs to go, much to everyone in the house’s dismay. After only posting 2 pages in July of 2020, 6 more pages (total of 8- about half) were posted on Jan. 12, 2021. The aim is to finish the chapter by month’s end, and then officially “republish” it as the lead chapter, replacing Chapter E (Therapy Dog Needs Therapy) posted 12/31/20.

Notes for Chapter F, “Klumsy Kat, But Only When Anxious” (first 8 pages for now)

Klumsy Kat as a character was developed around the same time as Stupid Mouse (Aspie Mouse’s forebear) when the Author of this Graphic Novel was 12 years old. But while Klumsy Kat often appeared in issues of Stupid Mouse in separate one-page stories — and was one of three cats featured in separate 16-page comic book specials called “The Cats” — she (ex-he) wasn’t involved in any stories with Stupid Mouse.

To make Klumsy Kat more 3-dimensional and truly unique — as the only cat who’d prefer really playing with AM instead of wanting to kill him — she got a makeover: first, KK became a she; next — as when Stupid Mouse became Aspie Mouse — her former “stupid look” of one eye up, one eye down was replaced by having one “lazy eye” to help explain coordination issues; then she’s made deaf, as all-white cats usually are (she was always all-white). Also, her front paws were de-clawed, an all too-often procedure done to keep cats from scratching the furniture, usually with bad psychological and even physical problems resulting for the cat. Finally, she likely also has Autism, helping explain her “unexpected” behavior of not wanting to kill mice or birds.

Despite her apparent compatibility with the Coppola family, Klumsy Kat (or KK) ends up in trouble. When Klumsy Kat gets anxious, she causes a lot of upheaval: breaking things, interrupting meal preparation and other activities. Anxiety leading to upheaval is quite widespread in society, but especially pervasive for those with Autism. This is where Aspie Mouse comes in: he helps KK find ways to reduce her anxiety, which reduces her clumsiness.

There are really four “scenes” that follow after KK is introduced to AM: (1) While teaching KK tag, Claire hits KK with a broom (thinking KK has bad intent for AM), which gets KK flustered, so she tumbles downstairs to the basement and breaks window glass; (2) While finally being the “chased” in tag, KK slides on some grease on the floor, causing a pan of lasagna to land all over her, really upsetting Gloria (the mom). Not KK’s fault, but … (3) #83 comes over to ask for AM’s help in ridding her house next door of rats that are trying to displace the mice; AM brings KK over and the rats decide they’ll find another house instead; (4) While playing a new game (for KK), hide and seek, KK chooses a cabinet with fancy fragile dishes and figurines to try to hide behind; it tips over, much breaks, and Gloria is super-angry!

So when Gloria Coppola discovers that Claire is allergic to cats — at least to Klumsy Kat — (or believes she is), it gives her a good excuse to get rid of KK (renamed “Kind Kat” by AM!), much to the dismay of Aspie Mouse’s — and everyone else in the house.

Questions for Thought/ Discussion: Ch. F, ” Klumsy Kat, But Only When Anxious “

F 1: On the first page of this chapter, several different “body language” postures and cues are shown.

a. How good are you in interpreting other people’s facial features and body language?

b. What’s unusual about the way Bobby and Aspie Mouse are sitting in the first panel? What do you think it means?

c. In separate panels, Bobby and AM each fold their arms in front of their chest. Does it mean the same thing for both of them? What does it mean? Do you ever fold your arms in front of your chest? If yes, what does it mean when you do it?

d. Aspie Mouse nods up and down (we know that means yes), but also spins around “in circles” after Bobby draws a picture of a cat. Do you agree that AM spinning around in circles means for AM what Bobby says it would mean for him — “positive excitement?” Do you sometimes spin around in circles? If yes, what does it mean for you?

d. In the last panel on Page 1, Mrs. Coppola puts her hand on her forehead. What do you think it means for her? Do you sometimes slap your forehead? What does it mean for you?

F 2: Klumsy Kat is introduced right away as having “multiple disabilities” — hearing and eyesight issues, plus having been de-clawed. There’s little dispute these are “disabilities” (or disorders). On the other hand, people with Autism often dispute having their brain function described that way, vs. as “differences.”

a.  Why do you think Mrs. Coppola is particularly afraid of letting Klumsy Kat (KK) go outside? What might happen to KK outside?

b. How much do you think KK’s “differences/ disabilities” vs. other cats matter in how positively Claire and AM in particular react initially to KK?

c. What concerns would you have about KK if she met up with a fiercer cat (such as Brilli in Ch. C or the ASPCA cat in Ch. D? In Ch. G, you’ll see just such a meetup.

d.  What is your position as to whether — or to what extent — Autism is a difference? a disorder? a disability?

e. Do you, like KK, have “multiple conditions” (one or more besides Autism) that society considers a disorder or disability? If yes, how do these/ does this other condition(s) increase your difficulties in dealing with the non-Autistic world? What positives do you have from this/ these additional condition(s)?

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