On Filling Gaps

June 4, 2014
1.Learning the meaning of “OR”
Today, Robert and I worked on Unit 13 from Reasoning and Writing. One of the tasks called for Robert to pick up “red or green pencil as opposed to the task of picking “red and green”. Robert didn’t know the difference. We repeated the series of exercises twice, but Robert still has not fully grasped the ideas behind each of the two conjunctions. I need to rethink the way to teach that. I will probably use cards with written words “and” and “or”, but I am not sure yet.
2. Learning to Whisper.
After studying for 2 hours we went to see Maleficent. Remembering that a few weeks ago when we went to see Rio 2, Robert spoke twice and rather loudly, I tried to practice whispering. We had done it before, maybe a few months ago. We started with just blowing air and then adding voiceless consonants. With some consonants, Robert could whisper, with others he was unable to. I don’t know why we stopped. Today, we tried again, just for a few minutes. It was not enough for Robert to whisper in the Theatre, but it, at least, gave him an idea of what it is to speak softly.

3. Paying with money and rounding to the next dollar.
On Monday in the Zoo, on Tuesday at McDonald and on the farm, and today at the movie theatre, Robert was using cash instead of his credit card. Robert’s refusal on Friday to give enough money to his job coach to pay for ordered lunch, allowed me to discover another gap in Robert’s understanding of financial operations.
So, for the last three days, Robert was not allowed to use his credit card but had to pay using cash. On Monday, he rounded up $3.50 to $4.00 to pay for his watermelon frozen lemonade. On Tuesday, he gave the cashier at the farm store $11 to pay the bill of $10.49. Later, at McDonald, he used exactly $6.09 to pay the bill of $6.09. Today, he had to pay 4.50. He found out that he had only three one dollar bills, so he gave ten-dollar bill to the cashier. In three transactions he needed support, in two others, he didn’t.
4.Touching objects in the Museum.
On Thursday, I learned that Robert kept touching untouchable displays at the Museum. I realized that this behavior was enforced during our frequent trips to science museum, where every visitor is encouraged to touch, manipulate, check, and recheck all the displays to literally have hands on the presented ideas. At least a year has passed since our last visit to the Museum of Fine Arts and/or Metropolitan Museum of Art. I have to plan a visit to one gallery at the Museum. Maybe tomorrow?
(Update. We didn’t go to the Art Museum yet, as it rained all day and Robert was very sleepy.)
5. Staying in his seat during work and/or asking for a break.
It happens from time to time, during our studying sessions, that Robert suddenly gets up and runs/walks around. Since I perceived this behavior to be a stretching exercise, I didn’t mind it much. Now, I have realized that it might be problematic during work or any group activity. Had Robert had words to use before getting up, his behavior would be seen differently. I think I will place cards with phrases, “I need to stretch.” or ” I need a break” on the table and demand that Robert uses them whenever he wants to get up.
6.Greeting people.
I noticed that Robert still had to be prompted to greet the people who worked with him. Today, I used the unit on arriving at work from Functional Routines for Adolescents and Adults by Beverly Plass as an introduction. But, of course, learning at home with me and practicing in the community with other people are two different things.

I discovered those gaps mostly because I work with Robert and because I listened to all the job coaches who worked with Robert during three weeks long evaluation period. They just shared their observation. Sadly, many of his teachers in his former public school had rarely or never done that. The fact that I was not made aware of those and similar gaps during my son’s long stay in the transition classroom is the most demeaning commentary on the quality of special education programs in our public school.

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