Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Time to Shake Out Your Brain ... Literally

I co-taught an English class with a teacher who always said, "Shake out your brains," when the class began to zone out. Our high school students knew it meant time for a mental break. Not so with Justin, a five-year-old boy I teach three times a week. Justin is high-functioning autistic, and children with autism tend to be extremely literal. Justin struggles with his literalism in adorable ways.

When I saw Justin starting to zone out, without even realizing what I was saying, "Time to shake out your brain," slipped out. Justin looked perplexed as he began to shake his head. When he stopped shaking, he said, in a regretful tone, "It's still in there."

IT being his brain. Which was still in his head. He had not succeeded in doing what I had asked of him, which was to shake out his brain.

Justin also has a tendency to put his feet all over me, and I am constantly asking him to stop. The other day, after asking him gently several times to move his feet, I finally said, "Justin. Please. How many times have I asked you to move your feet?"

His answer? "Six." I'm sure he was right.

5 Comments:

Blogger Digger Jones said...

After asking how many times you asked, you should have asked him "How many times do I HAVE to ask you?"

Try this: WRITE what you want him to do. make a sign that says "PUT YOUR FEET ON THE FLOOR." If he is a reader, he will read it and he will HAVE to do it.

Somewhere in a high functioning autistic head is a compulsion for reading and obeying what is written. Or at least responding to it.

D.

11:16 PM  
Blogger Miss Dennis said...

Thanks. This child does in fact have many sympoms of hyperlexia. He responds well to social cartoons with both writing and pictures. I think I'll make a social cartoon about him not putting his stinky feet all over me. "Here's how Miss Dennis feels when Justin's feet are all over her: (insert exasperated teacher face)."

"Now here's Miss Dennis when Justin is sitting criss cross with his feet to himself: (proud teacher face)."

3:37 AM  
Blogger Fred said...

Yes, he was more certainly right. You have a difficult job; I don't know how you do it.

7:56 PM  
Blogger JB said...

thank you for sharing with us - I am a private duty pediatric high tech nurse and have similar hurdles...
I know the challenges as well as the rewards....
not to mention the giggles
*hugs*

3:41 PM  
Blogger momdgp said...

My first reaction was that you worked at the south Bronx HS I attended as a student 35 yrs ago, until the purple stapler story where the student mentions the 6 train (my school was/is closer to the D and 4 trains). But the stories you have been telling are unfortunately not new. I'm sorry to hear that the stories (especially the pregnant teen sucking her thumb) are the same as when I lived in da Bronx.

10:38 AM  

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