I have been doing this with my students this week and it has been very successful. We discuss first what we know about a baby chick using EET. We review vocabulary related to the subject and I show pictures to reinforce the vocab (beak, feathers, wings, down feathers, hatch, yolk, peck, exhausted, fluffy, wet, skinny, etc). I cracked an egg in front of them too. We looked at it, touched it, described it- then washed our hands! Then we watched a time elapsed video of an egg hatching from youtube video. Afterwards, we made an egg craft for following directions and spatial concepts. So much fun!
In this fictional story written by Naoki, we see the ghost of a boy named Shun struggle desperately to communicate with his mother after dying in a sudden bike accident. She is unable to see or hear him, to understand his words of comfort to her. Reluctantly, Shun separates from his mother and goes to Heaven, which is place of “perfect freedom.” However, after visiting his mother a few times on Earth, he sees how unhappy she is and realizes that she is unable to get past his death. After a year, Shun decides that he wants to comfort his mother more than anything. He makes a deal with God to return as another child, agreeing to lose his own identity and memory of his life as “Shun”.
SO….there were so many random and disconnected thoughts that I had while reading this story. Perhaps I am not “deep” enough to truly connect the dots in a meaningful way, but I will just throw out there what I gleaned from this parable of sorts. Shun’s life as a ghost seemed symbolic to me as Naoki’s life with Autism. Shun was trying to controlh is body and hug his mom and comfort her during her sadness, but he was unable to, not matter how hard he tried. He tried repeatedly to speak with his parents and was never heard. Then, he went to Heaven. I believe it was here that Naoki envisioned his life without Autism. Being able to live in “perfect freedom” and do everything that he was unable to do previously. In the end, Naoki wrote that Shun would choose to lose the memories of everything that made him the boy he was, all in order to save his mother and make her happy. I believe this shows that people on the spectrum are able to develop empathy, understand emotions, and even put other’s emotions ahead of their own.
Rachel Lacap, Wheeler Elementary
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
I just wanted to share a link with you all today! I won’t say too much about it, just that I would love for you to share your thoughts in the comments below!
**Edit** For some reason I cannot get the link to work. Here is the web address. You can copy and paste this link:
Sorry and thanks for your patience!
In the beginning of this chapter Naoki speaks of witnessing others cry and wondering why they are crying. He describes his own experience when he visited a town called Kamakura and the great statue of Buddha caused him to burst into tears. He explains that it was more than just the majesty and dignity of Buddha, it was the weight of the history and generations of people’s hopes, prayers and thoughts that broke over him. He felt as though Buddha said to him, “All human beings have their hardships to bear, so never swerve from the path you’re on.” He also reminds the reader to remember that crying isn’t always about sadness or meltdowns.
Q48 Why are you always running off somewhere?
He explains that he doesn’t choose to run off and is constantly working to fight the impulse. He compares it to being teleported from one place to another without even knowing it.
Q49 Why do you get lost so often?
He describes his answer to this question as follows: “Simply put, people with autism never, ever feel at ease, wherever we are. Because of this, we, we wander off- or run away- in search of some location where we do feel at ease.”
Q50 Why do you wander off from home?
The answer to this question is described as his “body moved because it was lured outside by something there.” One time he was almost hit by a car and the fear had such an impact on his memory that he stopped running away after that experience.
Q51Why do you repeat certain actions again and again?
In his opinion, people with autism do not do this simple because they enjoy it, but because their brains send out the same order over and over and there is comfort and good feelings that come from it. He envies people ability to know what their minds are saying and have control over it. He feels as if he has to obey the missions that his mind sends to him.
Q52 Why don’t you do what you’re supposed to do, even after being told a million times?
There is a sequence that happens and no matter how many times he’s told not to do something, the impulse to re-create that sequence takes over and sends some type of pleasant electrical buzz to his brain. He compares it to watching your favorite scene of a DVD over and over on auto repeat.
Q53 Why are you obsessive about certain things?
Obsessing over certain things happens because they like it or because it causes them to be calmed or soothed. He mentions that people should try and stop the behavior if it is disruptive or bothersome, but if it isn’t, then just let them be.
–Allison Forrester, SLP at Noe Middle and Manual High
Today, Lauren Gillenwater (SLP at Greenwood Elem.) shares some thoughts on a PD she recently participated in:
I am feeling inspired after the SLP Summit and ready to put some of the speakers’ therapy ideas in action! I have had a chance to apply several ideas. For example, I introduced new visual support and questions to teach critical thinking skills to older students. As a result, the students seem more engaged and eager to participate. I introduced some other new visuals and asked new questions to teach inferencing, sorting relevant and irrelevant information, context clues, sequencing, and compare/contrast. I’ve used a lot of sticky notes and diagrams to add a new twist to teaching the same skills. I have seen better attitudes among preschool students since I modified the classroom structure. I look forward to implementing other ideas discussed, such as graphic organizers to teach vocabulary and learning visuals for behavior management. Overall, I have enjoyed trying out some new ideas. I think the students have found it just as refreshing!