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.


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.


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

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  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home