Sorry to disappoint all of you die hard Cher fans, no fishnet stockings here. Today I feel pretty lousy. I know at first glance this could be blamed on tiredness but deep down I know it is more than that. (while on the topic, a big thank you to baby Sammy who loves me so much, he decided he wanted to see me every two hours last night…) I’ve worked out that what I am feeling is guilt and regret.
Before going to bed last night I sat down to catch up some reading for my Masters. My current course takes a closer, in depth look at Autism Spectrum Disorders. As a relatively experienced educator, I foolishly believed that just having taught children with A.S.D gave me a licence to ‘pretend’ I knew what I was doing. The more I read, the more I learn, the more I learn the more I realize that I knew nothing. I have actually come away from this work feeling like I owe a big fat apology to the children and families of the A.S.D children I had taught in the years before ‘we knew’ what we were doing.
If I could turn back time…..
I would never haver made him look me in the eye. The sheer anxiety that we caused him would have been crippling. He was still listening.
I wouldn’t have insisted that he ‘colour his worksheet’. It really had nothing to do with his learning, and was more to do with his teachers demonstrating their power. He was petrified of making a mistake and not being perfect in our eyes .
I would’ve realized the noises he was making weren’t because he was trying to annoy me, but because he was frightened that he didn’t understand what we were doing.
I wouldn’t have made him sit on the carpet, because to him it was like sitting on razor blades.
I wouldn’t have arranged for other children to play with him at break times. He really just did enjoy being alone and needed that time to regroup. He was safe in his space.
I would have allowed him more time to celebrate his obsessions, because one day this would be his career.
The list could go on forever.
(Including some very ‘off topic’ regrets such as not trying to drink a bottle of Jim Beam before a blue light disco at the age of 15 resulting in a drunken hug with the school principal and for thinking taking a job at a place called ‘Burger Hop’ was ever going to lead to fame and fortune)
I have learnt more from reading the works of Temple Grandin, than I could have over the next twenty years in a classroom. Who better to steer us in the right direction than somebody actually living with Autism Spectrum Disorder, not some researcher who his good at collecting data and telling us what the statistics indicate would be best.
I only wish that every pre-service teacher was made to read her recommendations for classroom teachers.
Several Movies have been made of her extraordinary success, well worth looking her up, particularly’ Grandin, Temple 1995, ‘Learning style of people with autism: an autobiography’,.