Autism Consulting Service
for autism, Asperger's and PDD-NOS
How to Teach....It really isn't that difficult!
Note: This is a good example of how a teacher teaches "in spite" of the disabilities of autism which includes an impairment in communication. This impairment impedes the child's ability to share what has been taken in and understood, but is no indication of the learning going on. It's fascinating that the teacher in the story was able to do this for a child with Guillian Barre Syndrome while none of her other teachers could do it because of her autism. She still was the same child!
I knew how to read long before I could speak. There were no responses I made that would have given anyone any indications that I was reading. I even tore the pages and ate them because I wanted to keep the words. There was no way that anyone could tell that I was reading or not. I did not react or respond appropriately because I could not.
Why is there a definitive response needed from students that cannot give a definitive response? Once you've already done 'cat' and 'dog' move on to something else. The response you are waiting for may not come. Taking in is something we can do. It takes time to sort out and even longer to express. What I want to understand is why a response is needed. Just provide the same education as you would everyone else without depending on response or indication of knowing what may or may not be known. Is it at all possible to merely provide an education?
Once I suffered Guillain Barre syndrome after an allergic reaction to a flu shot, and was paralyzed for a time. I couldn't bat a fly on my face. My mom insisted on a homebound teacher, although I couldn't even breath on my own and was unresponsive. The teacher came by and gave me an education that would have been the same as any other student my age. I could not respond. Did not respond. He could have been instructing the wall paper for all the indicative responses I gave. I was given tests even. He read them out and read out the multiple choice answers as well, going on to the next question without ever receiving any sort of reply.
Eventually he was gone. Never knowing he ever made a difference, perhaps wondering if it was just two hours a day of talking to himself. Actually he did some of this. Talking absently as if to no one was listening. Going through history and science and literature. But my mind drew pictures taking me to places he described. Discovering sciences. Such subjects that were never before wasted on me.
It was the best education I received. Without the teacher ever knowing that it meant anything at all. Like giving an education to someone in a coma never knowing if the other person is receiving the intended message. He just provided an education he would have given to regular students. except he had no way of knowing if I was learning anything. He just came in every day and followed through to the next lesson, continuing where he left off the day before. With no indication that the lifeless vegetable in front of him was taking in anything or not.
It was years later when I could express the remembered lessons. By then he was dead. Some sort of cancer or something and I could never tell him the impact he made. He provided an education without needing any proof or definitive responses that I was receiving The gift he was providing! He gave me lessons no one else ever gave me because I couldn't indicate where I was at any given moment.
That's what I wish teachers would do, just provide the education everyone should have access to no matter what. Teach what you would everyone else. Why do you need an definitive response from someone who may not be able to? Since there is no way of knowing what they may or may not know and neither be able to determine what they understand or not understand, how about this not being the priority but just dish out the education. Don't wait for the proof that may not come.
My teacher died due to illness never knowing if I received anything. He could have been just wallpaper talking for all he knew, even mentioned that at one point, but he always went on to the next lesson, the next story, as scheduled, regardless. So what if it took ten years before I could express the lessons learned. And so what that he was long dead before any definitive responses to anything he ever presented to me would show. He was the best teacher I ever had and died never knowing it.
Proof was something he did not need to educate. He just did it. You may be stuck on the 'cat' and 'dog' bit, waiting for a definitive response. Do as he did and move on already. Go to the next lesson plan. You might be surprised how interesting Shakespeare can be. Hey I couldn't tie my shoelaces but still loved history, even as I was spinning 'supposedly' unaware.
Sometimes too much time is spent on lessons when people need a definitive response to something they are trying to teach. Forget that....just teach. Give out the lessons. Just provide an education. Stop looking for proof that it's being received. As Nike says. "just do it".
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