Blog post chap 59, 61, and 67

Chap. 59 Summary: Christopher is detailing how confusing it is when people tell him what to do-for example, “Keep off the grass,” but then not telling which area of the grass exactly. He feels relieved with the way Siobhan understands him and gives very exact directions on what it is he is allowed to do. She gives him a strategy, for example, that if someone hits him, he is to move away and stand still and count from 1 to 50, then come and tell her what has happened. Next Christopher has more detective work sneaking into the backyard of his neighbor and looking in the windows of her garden shed. Mrs. Shear’s then had to threaten Christopher that she would call the police again for him to go home. Christopher returned home and didn’t tell his dad what he had been up to.

Application: Very explicit directions are comforting to our students that don’t understand abstract language or indirect messages J

Chap. 61 Summary: Christopher is imagining that because his mother was cremated, he sometimes looks up into the sky and thinks that there are molecules of his mother in clouds over Africa, or coming down as rain in Brazil, or in snow somewhere. He doesn’t understand this concept of heaven that people have tried to explain to him, but he does thoroughly understand the process of decomposition and what happens to people who are buried.

Application: Further confirmation of how easy it is to imagine the concrete and real for Christopher.   Also, in this chapter, you can see how overfocused Christopher is on what people wear and how they smell J

Chap. 67 Summary: It’s Saturday, and Christopher’s dad is watching England play Romania at football on the TV, so he decides to do more detective work to find out who killed Wellington the dog. He talks about how this is brave for him, because he doesn’t like talking to strangers. It takes him a long time to get used to new staff members at school, and he won’t talk to them for weeks and weeks until he knows they are safe. Once he learns about if they have pets, or what there favorite color is, and draws a plan of their house, and asks them what kind of car they drive, he doesn’t mind being in the same room with them.

As Christopher goes on his neighborhood investigation, he has a couple conversations, and one longer conversation with a nice older lady who wants to bring out a snack to him. She offers many different snacks to him, but he ends up rejecting several of the offered food items because of their color. When Mrs. Alexander goes into the house to get snacks, Christopher ends up leaving because he was worried she might be calling the police. As he was walking away, he had a Chain of Reasoning inside his head, which left him with the notion that Mr. Shears may be his prime suspect in the murder of Wellington.

Application: To see how difficult it was for Christopher to eat things that were a certain color was enlightening. I never had thought that the strange eating habits I see with students that have autism, could be related to color! I always just thought it was the texture and taste they didn’t like and had never even thought it may be the color, or the fact that it was touching another food item

— Holly Porter

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11 thoughts on “Blog post chap 59, 61, and 67

  1. Holly Hamill says:

    In my early years of working for JCPS, I had a student on the spectrum that asked new people the same list of questions every time. What’s your husband’s name? Do you have any children? What kind of car do you drive? What color is it? Does it have an airbag? His mother shared with me that he did this with the cashier at Walgreens and other new people he met. Those same rote questions had value to him. Reading this part of the book made me realize that was his way of becoming comfortable with new people.

  2. Erin Williams says:

    I am reminded of providing explicit instructions for my children with autism. For many of my children on the spectrum, this also requires a visual support. Also, this reminds me of students that I have had on the spectrum that have to be told exactly what to do to work towards benchmarks, as opposed to asking them to complete a task. The question opens up the opportunity for them to refuse to comply.

  3. Lindsey Ludwig says:

    I loved hearing Christopher’s explanation about what it takes for him to be comfortable with strangers. When meeting my students with autism for the first time, I know that I always make it a point to try to get on their level and use their names. I need to remember to be aware of the fact that they may ask atypical questions to feel safe around me. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to ask parents if there’s anything I can do to make them feel comfortable, particularly for students lacking verbal abilities.
    I’ve also never considered that the food refusals may not be due to texture/sensory activities. I do cooking activities with my MSD students on nearly a weekly basis, so I am going to try to pay more attention to particular students’ nuances with regards to foods. I do seem to notice patterns with certain textures or flavors, for example, I have certain students who prefer foods that are sweet or only like crunchy foods.

  4. Kristin Kelly says:

    I love this part of chapter 67:
    “So talking to the other people in our street was brave. But if you are going to do detective work you have to be brave, so I had no choice.”
    He did something he would normally not like doing because he had a purpose, a reason, a “buy in”. I’m thinking of how to approach students differently to find their “buy in” to skills and behaviors that we “need” from them. How can we change the conversation so that our students think they “have to” in a positive, motivating way?

  5. Lauren Taylor says:

    Much like everyone else, this portion of the book reminds me of the value of specificity when dealing with students who may see the world a little more literally than others. I love that Christopher and Siobhan have developed strategies for dealing with things he may not understand, and that Christopher is able to recall and use those strategies when necessary.

  6. Katie Cohen says:

    Christopher’s memorizing the strategy for when someone hits him: he is to step away, count to 50, and then find Siobhan, gives me hope that memorizing appropriate social skills and phrases of politeness for some of my students will carryover and apply in a future situation. Sometimes reviewing these skills in a session, I feel like its just rote memorization. Now I’m inspired to talk with a few classroom teachers to see if these skills are already carrying over.

    • Holly says:

      I have noticed this explicit rule-following for social situations at the high school level. One of my students was so mathematical about her social skills because she didn’t understand all the nuances that come naturally to so many students-so it turned into somewhat of a formula for her!

  7. Allison Wahl says:

    I loved chapter 67 when Christopher is talking about his dislike for strangers. He says that he hates strangers and when there is a new staff member at work it takes him weeks to talk to them. This reminds me so much of some of my kiddos with autism in their first weeks at a new school. I have had a few who won’t talk to anyone for weeks also. It just reminds me that I have to let them get to know me and try to form a connection.

  8. Sarah Crady says:

    Like many others, I found it valuable to see how direct instructions are so important with some of our students. With my social skills groups we often role play and I give them scripts that go along with meeting new people or what to do or say in certain situations. By reflecting, I can see that I focused on trying to get my students to take the script and expand on it or adapt the script for different situations and felt defeated when they had trouble doing so. It is nice to know that the comfort of knowing what to say without deviating from the script probably provided comfort to the students which is an important step before they are able to expand.

  9. Jennifer says:

    When Christopher told us his strategy to deal with being hit, I wondered if Siobhan made a social story for him. It shouldn’t, but the effectiveness of social stories always surprises me.

    This chapter was another reminder of the importance of specificity when giving directions. This is another thing I take for granted until I hear someone pepper any kiddo with multiple questions, complex directions with multiple steps, or just over-talking in general, which interferes with being able to process and absorb what was just said.

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