Friday, September 30, 2011
When my second child was entering his second semester at college, he was taking wonderful classes. He commented that he was really looking forward to the semester. If his brain didn't burst, he would be really smart. That's how I have felt this fall. I have been overwhelmed with all the changes in my teaching. I have learned PCI Reading Instruction Curriculum, PCI Environmental Signs Curriculum, EQUALS math curriculum, and Discovery Vocational Curriculum. After six weeks of implementing them, I am beginning to feel more comfortable. The students are showing improvement, which is thrilling, and there are fewer meltdowns. I was able to meet with a group of parents to give them work to do at home, and they are working with their students on reading. The improvement was immediate. I could see results in a week. What a blessing to have such a supportive group of parents! I still have a long way to go, but I am feeling good when I go home at the end of the day. One problem I see even here in LASSO (Language And Social Skills Curriculum) is an emphasis on assessment. Let's face it, assessment is useless unless it is given to every child in the same way. Yet students with autism are entirely unique. No one-size-fits-all system is going to work. I am constantly calling on my intuition to empathize with students, based mostly on their body language. It's pretty easy to tell if they know something or not if I don't get hung up on vocabulary or other language skills. I believe in teaching to their strengths. Let's face it, folks. Who among us could learn to read by memorizing every word? These students are amazing! As I move through this year with them, I want to challenge their abilities and help them develop compensatory strategies for the areas they have trouble with. I know I can't learn it all, so please let me know what has worked for you.