The Conversation Bench

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Project by WhiskeyWaters posted 07-03-2012 02:02 AM 2188 views 1 time favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Students with autism, people with neurological differences and people with two eyes and ears and a brain often need a place to talk. For my students with autism, the act of conversation can be harrowing, heartwrenching and terrifying. On a good day. My students often must master sitting in one place, labeling the world with words and comprehending the speech of others. Once this is done, maybe they can open themselves to the vulnerability, the hurt, the anguish and the ecstasy of a conversation. I’m known as a loquaciousness guy, but make no bones about it. A true conversation with those I love – my wife, my sons, my brothers, my father or oh, god, my mother – fills me with terror. I must face the person in the mirror, flaws and all. And my partner will witness it. I go through my life in a series of small talks, in terror of the moment it all falls down and I must converse with the ones I love. I can only imagine the world my students bravely navigate in everyday.

And I, the onery cuss I am, conceived of and helped build them a bench to have those conversations. This is the conversation bench. I can’t take credit for the design. These types of benches were popular in Victorian times. A particular student of mine—the student with a wrench in his pocket, a messy shock of brown hair, a mass of freckles, snotty nose and the gleaming eye of one who knows so much but needs just as much—helped in every step of the process. He picked out the busted up chairs, broke them apart, screwed the mess together and sanded like a demon. I finished it myself because I used oil-based finishes. The student decided to hold a contest – he made clay coins and hid them around the schoolhouse. When found, they have been turned in for the reward.

The reward is a conversation – a real, honest-to-self, conversation. On politics, baseball, Airsoft guns, video games, NASCAR or whatever. Just a conversation. A reward, a terrifying reward, for a job well done.

Make it safe & keep the rubber side down. Have a nice conversation this week. More stories @

-- make it safe & keep the rubber side down.

5 comments so far

View bruc101's profile


1556 posts in 4994 days

#1 posted 07-03-2012 02:54 AM

Unique and a job well done.

-- Bruce Free Plans & Calculators

View Richard's profile


11310 posts in 4485 days

#2 posted 07-03-2012 05:41 AM

Very Nice! I have an Antique Upholstered one. At That tome they were reffered to as “Love Seats”.

-- Richard (Ontario, CANADA)

View GrandpaLen's profile


1652 posts in 3724 days

#3 posted 07-03-2012 12:01 PM

What a Great Conversation Piece you’ve made.

What a Great Opportunity you’ve offered.

What a Great Story you’ve shared.

What a Great Spirt you’ve become.

It takes your kind of Special, to help with there kind of Special.

Thanks for be there for them. – Grandpa Len

-- Mother Nature should be proud of what you've done with her tree. - Len ...just north of a stone's throw from the oHIo, river that is, in So. Indiana.

View Bluepine38's profile


3393 posts in 4537 days

#4 posted 07-03-2012 12:52 PM

Congratulations on a project that has a great start, and hopefully will continue in use. Those of us who have
been blessed with a wonderful working body need to remember that. Thank you for sharing, both with us
and with your students.

-- As ever, Gus-the 83 yr young apprentice carpenter

View SergeantSawDust's profile


174 posts in 3634 days

#5 posted 07-03-2012 05:57 PM

Nice project.. Nice story. That was written very well. Thanks for sharing!

-- Woodworking for the hobbyist woodworker.

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