Saturday, April 11, 2009
Sunday, April 5, 2009
I have been teaching my seventh grade students propaganda techniques. We focus on advertisements and commercials in 7th grade, and this week, while watching real and student-created commercials, I did my own public service propaganda campaign. It started off with, "Guys, April is Autism Awareness Month, and I want to talk to you about this because in the last 3 years I have learned a lot more about autism. My son, Jack, (pass around picture of Jack) has autism..." This was the first time I have shared this information with my students because until now it has been too raw. One of the unspoken rules of teaching is to never cry in front of your students. Before now I know I would have cried, but now I know this whole autism thing is what it is, and, honestly, the Busby Family is better because of it.
I told my students that Jack sometimes does things that are weird, especially since he looks like a normal kid, and that probably people who see us out sometimes wonder why we don't beat him more often. (The students smiled but did not laugh.) I tell them that Jack is different and learning to do things that might come naturally to them, like use language and make eye contact. I told them that Jack has helped me become a better teacher because I realize that all of them have worked hard to come this far, and that every single student I have has many people who think he or she is wonderful (and I am included in that number). One of my students asked me how I felt when I found out Jack had autism. I told him that I cried because most parents expect to have a typical child and it was hard to hear he would not be typical. I also mentioned that as a middle school teacher, I knew that students could be cruel, and I didn't want Jack to be bullied. (My students solemnly nodded.)
Jack processes things differently from neurotypicals. He flicks, flaps, says, "Ta Dadda Dadada!" when he is excited. He grinds his teeth and pops his jaw. He needs constant deep pressure, movement, input to his system. Joe and I work to help him discover things that he can do that help him learn, focus, and fit in. I just hope as he is working to fit into the neurotypical world, the neurotypicals will widen their sensory acceptance a little bit.
While Jack was having ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) this afternoon, Ingrid and I drove over to a neighborhood church for their egg hunt. Ingrid liked the basket (it was very much like a purse), but really saw no need to hunt eggs when a playground was much more appealing. The eggs were more like multi-colored obstacles to her end goal--the slide and swings.
One boy helped her, after forceful prodding from his mom, and he threw a couple of eggs in her basket. She sat down and looked at them, but really, the playground was calling to her. I got one picture before she dove onto the closest step. In the second picture the basket handle, hooked onto the bottom of her cast, hangs precariously as she deftly snakes her way to that first step. I love that wild, wild girl.