The Black Crow and The White Dove

This chapter begins with a short story about a white dove (symbolism of beauty and peace-something/someone who seems to have it all) being lost. The white dove approaches a black crow and asks where a particular path goes because they are searching for the path to happiness. The black crow responds that all paths are really one connected path-possibly indicating that everyone in this world is on the same search to happiness. I believe Naoki included this short story as a reminder that everyone in this world is on the same path and ultimately just wants to achieve happiness.

The questions for this chapter were very relevant to students that I work with and I found each answer to be interesting. I found Naoki’s answer about needing a visual schedule to be particularly surprising…

Why do you need cues and prompts?

Naoki says that people with autism are sometimes unable to move to their next action without a verbal prompt. For example, even after someone with autism requests a glass of apple juice they are unable to actually drink it until they are provided with a verbal prompt. Naoki says that his brain is wired to move from one action to another only when provided with prompts. He compares his brain needing prompts like people need a green light while driving to “go”.

Why can you never sit still?

“I’m always on the lookout for an exit. But even though I’m forever wanting to be someplace else, I never can actually find my way there.” Naoki also says that he is more relaxed when he is in a state of motion as opposed to sitting still.

Do you need visual schedules? * I found this response most surprising

Short answer-Naoki says no! He says that visual schedules are too restricting and stress him out about where he needs to be and when. Naoki suggests talking through the day’s plans with him instead of giving him a visual schedule. He suggests talking through the fact there may be changes to this routine as well. Naoki says that it is often misunderstood that people with autism do not understand just by listening. I found this statement significant because I honestly find myself doing the same. I have assumed with certain student’s that they require visuals to really understand my message or intent. On the other hand, I am often surprised when one of my student’s picks up on something that I said when I really didn’t’ think they were listening. My students are often looking away or engaged in another activity as I speak and I need to remind myself that they are taking in more than I may realize. I also think that this response about visual schedules may be specific to Naoki. Obviously everyone with autism is different and I have definitely seen the benefits of visual schedules as opposed to verbal reasoning and explanations.

What causes panic attacks and meltdowns?

Naoki says many things may cause them and sometimes they are just unavoidable even with an ideal environment. Naoki suggests letting the panic attack (screaming and yelling) just happen and stay close by to ensure everyone is safe. –I think that this response is difficult to accept when working in a school setting because one student’s meltdown often triggers another student and it turns into a domino effect!

What are your thoughts on autism itself? * I found this answer to be very deep and philosophical

Naoki mentions all of the turmoil and crisis in this world today and suggests that people with autism are here as a reminder of “what truly matters for the Earth”.

–Marie Fisher, SLP at Newburg, Atherton, and JCTMS

5 thoughts on “The Black Crow and The White Dove

  1. allison forrester says:

    I appreciate his response to ‘thoughts on autism’ and it really puts things into perspective. I have often thought this about children with autism.

  2. Allison Dobbs says:

    Although most of the students with autism on my caseload do need visual supports, it was interesting to hear Naoki’s perspective on this. It is something I will continue to take into consideration.

  3. Carrie says:

    Regarding needing prompts to get started… I have a student on my caseload who is so interesting and sweet. He is in the Ahrens Work Transition Program. He knows that one of his goals is to greet others. Each time we start a session, all I need to do is give him just an ever-so-slight visual cue – just with my eye contact, and he knows what I want him to do; he will softly say “Hi” and give me a little wave. He has on one or two occasions greeted me without a prompt, but the vast majority of the time he does need that tiny cue. He is a young man who really does not initiate verbal interaction. When he is asked to describe a picture, he does very well… he uses lengthy sentences. His grammar is correct and his speech is clear, though the volume and intonation are off. His writing is incredibly legible and his correct grammar and syntax are reflected in his work. For example, when I asked what he had done over spring break, he wrote, “I listened to music.”
    Carrie Kaelin

  4. Kim Carter- Campbell says:

    With my high school students, the teacher presents the daily schedule on the board. The teacher also informs the students of any schedule changes prior to (i.e. field trips, advisory schedule, speech day). The students are given multiple reminders of any deviations from their normal day. During speech sessions, I have many kiddos say repeatedly “This won’t take long” or “Just a few more minutes.” With the visual reminders that Friday is Speech day, less perseverative language is evident. I think it depends on the individual student on the use of visual supports.

  5. Lindsay Manis says:

    At my school, everything is built on cues and visual schedules. This made me stop and think for a moment about the kids that I assumed would benefit from the visual schedule, but do not seem to take to it as well as some of my other kids. This needs to be something that is individualized more with our students. With some, simply forecasting the day is enough, even though we may feel differently. I think it is just honestly something that we have all been taught to use with our students with Autism, that we lose the personalization of what each of our students truly need.

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