Saturday, November 12, 2011
A Teacher FAILS Thanksgiving!! (Important lessons learned)
My daughter Kylie has been diagnosed as being on the Autism Spectrum. When we explain our situation to others, we choose to say that our family "experiences Autism".
Autism may encompass many varied learning barriers. But, if you know what to look for, know how to adapt and flex your teaching style, you can be very successful in encouraging a child who loves learning.
I had an opportunity to put that theory to practice just this week.
In my search for November activities that would support my teaching of the First Thanksgiving, I found lovely (and FREE) printables from both here and here (when this second one opens, scroll down to the bottom to find the free printables).
Let me just say that these gals do such a great job!
I was particularly drawn to a handout at both websites that focused on categorizing things. Kylie's Speech Therapist, Julie, has been working on this with Kylie and I thought it would be a great way to continue that learning at home.
I printed both handouts, cut them out, laminated them and had everything all ready.
One of the printables had photos of the Fisher Price Thanksgiving set and I knew Kylie would be really attentive to that as this toy is part of our November Sensory bin.
The purpose of the printable activity was to show Kylie different pictures and have her categorize them by "People" or "Food"
I first showed her one of the pictures of food and asked her which side it went on: "People" or "Food"? Kylie studied the picture and then placed it on "Food"
I offered her a few more food category selections and she categorized them correctly as well.
Feeling confident that she knew the idea behind the game, I then showed her a "People" card and again asked her "Food or People?"
Kylie looked at the picture, studied the picture and was really trying to decide what to do.
I could just see the wheels turning in her brain and I was puzzled by her lack of answer. It was actually painful for me to see her hesitation.
I looked at the picture and (to me) clearly it was a "people" - why was Kylie having such trouble?
...And then it hit me like a ton of bricks!
Take a closer look at the pictures. What is each "Person" holding?
They are each holding a FOOD item!!
No wonder Kylie was having such a hard time trying to decide where it went. It fit BOTH categories.
You see, children who experience Autism or who are on the Autism Spectrum tend to be very literal thinkers. These children see things that you or I would pass over. They have very acute vision, hearing and thinking processes.
These individuals are .... BRILLIANT!!
I felt badly when I realized that I had set Kylie up with (in her mind) a "trick question."
Rest assured my daughter earned herself an A+ on the activity.
Did this Mommy pass or fail?
Well, I failed at the activity but I passed in learning a valuable lesson!
How do I fix this issue?
I need to find pictures of people who aren't holding food! That should be pretty easy to do!
Note to self: Remember that Kylie is a very literal thinker.
Children and Adults who experience Autism have a very difficult time with metaphors and idioms.
If you were to say (metaphor) "It's raining Cats and Dogs" they would look for cats and dogs to fall out of the sky.
If you were to say (idiom) "He has a chip on his shoulder" they would look for a Dorito on a man's shoulder
Please take a minute to read this short article by an individual who experiences Autism and what they say are phrases that confuse them. The comments left by her readers are insightful as well.
Another personal example of this...
When I bathe Kylie and wash her hair, I often tell her to "look to the sky" so I won't get soap or water in her eyes. She isn't always cooperative, but we manage.
The other day, as I was soaking in the tub, Kylie came into the bathroom and started to "help" me. She took me by the head and said "look to the sky" but instead of pointing my eyes to the ceiling, she turned my head to the window!
ding, ding, ding, - another bell went off in my mind! I need to ask her to look at the ceiling vs look to the sky! After 5 years, you would think I would know these things!!
I guess it just proves that we all have things to learn and we all need to grow as individuals. Bless my daughter for loving me even with my shortcomings!
Hope you all are doing better than I am!!
P.S. This would be a great article to share with caregivers, teachers, and etc.