For EDUC 542 Week 4
Recently I read some essays from the blog, This I Believe. In an essay by May, Finding A Different Way, he discusses how his son is working toward a merit badge for learning to tie his shoes. His son, Brian, who has Down Syndrome worked tirelessly to master the seemingly simple task. The family supported Brian by all working together in teaching him to tie his shoes to meet the deadline set by his Cub Scout troop, which was only a week. It wasn’t until his older sister recommended for him to close his eyes and try tying that he was able to accomplish the task. She used his current abilities to help him master a challenge.
The Early Intervention Guidebook For Families and Professionals says that children develop new abilities by building on what they already know how to do (Keilty, 2016, p. 46). Brian already knew how to use his imagination to process problems, and his sister realized that he could use this technique to accomplish this new task. Sometimes caregivers/families struggle with how to teach routine activities to their student/child who has a disability. I think the key, which his sister was able to discern, was to determine Brian’s approach to learning. Keilty states that when a child knows how to learn, he or she can use those tools to achieve what he/she is learning next (2016. p.40). Once Brian used his personal “toolbox”, mastery was inevitable.
This is something that I think about often as a teacher. As I plan lessons, differentiation is extremely necessary. If the learning styles and overall demeanor of my students, my audience, are not taken into account my lessons will not be successful. Early Interventionists must work with caregivers to identify their child’s personal style of learning so that they can plan their presentation of a new or more challenging task.
I would love to know more about Brian’s processes! How did he come to be so good at using his imagination? At what age did he begin “closing his eyes”?
I also read an essay by Rachel entitled, This I Believe. Rachel took her son Mike on a hike to spend quality time together. She envisioned herself and her son walking together, enjoying the weather and each other’s company. Her son, Mike, is autistic and enjoys watching Seasame Street videos on his iPad. At the suggestion of leaving the iPad behind for the hike Mike was very upset, so Rachel allowed him to take it along. Rachel realized that she was still walking and enjoying the weather with her son, but that he was enjoying it in his own way.
She allowed Mike to use his learning style to experience something new and had understanding that his way is different from her own. She states that she joined his world for the hike instead of pulling him kicking and screaming into her own (Rachel, 2007). Early Interventionists work to teach caregivers these tactics so that their child/student can learn effectively. These tactics can help families challenge their students, which creates a whole new hurtle to overcome. Once the skill of presentation has been overcome, the challenge for all families and professionals is determining that “just right” challenge for the individual child (Keilty, 2016. p44).
Again, this essay spoke to my experience as a teacher. Sometimes lessons I plan do not go perfectly. Sometimes, my students are moving in a different direction. I have learned that they can still learn my intended objective, even if we complete the task a different way. It is better to go with the flow than against. Going with the flow is something that I have a lot of personal experience in. I have made Jojo Siwa videos a social emotional lesson and used cartoon characters to practice beginning sounds. In my mind, it is all about what the students are interested in! I have found, that I can get my point across using any medium and I hope that will help me on my path to becoming an early interventionist.
I would love to know more about this mother’s relationship with her son and about her journey in understanding his process. How does she keep the iPad from becoming something that keeps her son up at night? What techniques does she use to make the iPad a learning experience?
After looking around on the Center for Parent Information and Resources website I found some resources that I would recommend to each of these parents. For Brian’s dad/family I would recommend the RAISE standard newletters! These newsletters give advice for families or the students themselves on self-advocacy. For Mike’s mom I would recommend their Autism Navigator (http://autismnavigator.com/resources-and-tools/). This tool provides families with an interactive way to look at research based practices for children with Autism and would give her a glimpse into what has worked for others.
These families could teach me a lot! I have the hardest time planning something out, it always seems to change! Having a child with a disability means that you have to constantly plan and reflect. As I said above, I am usually so “go with the flow” that I can get in trouble on the paperwork/timeline side of things. These families have learned to use their strengths to suit them and I hope that I can always do the same.
Keilty, B. (2016). The early interventionist guidebook for families and professionals. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
May, B. (2007, March 28). Finding a different way. https://thisibelieve.org/essay/26439/.
Rachel. (2007, June 26). This I Believe. https://thisibelieve.org/essay/30813/