Dealing with Problems

May 3, 2015

No, not those kinds of problems.  It is not about  tantrums and not about OCD related problems. It is not about problems with, so-called, behaviors.

It is about dealing with PROBLEMS related to understanding concepts – including the concept of …PROBLEM.

In a school year 2005/2006, when my son was in a Collaborative Program, he often brought home worksheets he completed while having a group speech therapy. Those pages addressed in a very simple ways the deficits in Robert’s pragmatic language. A few of the most suitable pages came from MEER Pictures for Problem Solving by Maureen M. O’Connor and Pamela Patrick Vorce.  I believe that I ordered one of the last copies of the book from Linguisystems. It is currently out of print and my efforts to find if it is still available somewhere proved to be futile.

At that time, I was mostly concerned with teaching academics and although I recognized the value of using MEER curriculum, I stopped after a few units called by the authors more appropriately: “situations” .

I taught what was easiest for me to teach – math and science.  Later I added reading and working on language to fill the void left by the school.  Only occasionally I went back to dealing with understanding problems and problem solving. Sadly, I didn’t use MEER curriculum.

Instead, Robert and I discussed (with a few independently retrieved words and many verbal prompts.) problems and their possible outcomes as they were presented in Jean Gilliam Gaetano Problem Solving Activities. It is rather easy book although sometimes Robert or I became a little confused with the logic of the outcomes.

Still, I felt that something was missing from our conversations. Only lately, I realized that it was possible that Robert didn’t understand the word “problem”. That was a problem in itself and it was made worse by the fact, that I didn’t know how to make Robert appropriate the meaning of this word.

Sadly, I don’t have many ideas of my own in those fields of teaching where I lack expertise.  Language is one of them. I need examples.  I need curricula, I need advise.  So I looked for support and I found it in No Glamour Problem Solving by Linguisystems.  Unlike two previously mentioned workbooks, this one steps up its exercise from easy to difficult rather quickly.  Unlike the previous two books, this one requires student not only to look at the pictures but also to read a short story or listen to the story read by someone else.  That makes everything more complicated for Robert.

At the same time, the first set of exercises required Robert to  identify problems. He had to state, “This is a problem” when the picture presented a crying boy or a broken window.  He had to state “This is not a problem” when a girl was reading a book or a boy wearing a helmet was riding a bike in the park. I didn’t ask why something was a problem as that supposedly harder part was easier for Robert than just pointing to the picture where the problem exists.

After working with No Glamour Problem Solving for a few days, I decided to support our sessions with return to MEER Pictures for Problem Solving precisely because there is no reading or listening to story required.  The story is in the picture  and can be retold by Robert with more or less support from me. It is also possible that the reason I feel more comfortable using MEER is that the pictures allow me to see what Robert sees. I think we are sharing the same visual images. This might not be true when we read the text or listen to each other reading. The mental images we create might be quite different.

Each unit in Meer curriculum consists of one large picture presenting the “situation” or problem and four smaller ones that might or might not relate to it. This format offers opportunity to talk about problems, possible consequences, probable solutions and more.

For Robert who tends to see the life’s event as a linear sequence, in which every event has just one result, being exposed to a few possible outcomes of one situation helps to perceive events as less organized or even messy, but also offering variety of solutions.

 

 

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1 Comment

  1. It is interesting.I don’t know anything about Meer Pictures for Problem solving ,I couldn’t see this programme on Amazon….but I can have a clear picture how the material helps to show the problem and possibly the solution, you described it very well.When I work with my young adult son, he has limited expressive language but good logical thinking,I create a story,one big picture and some possibilities..related with the story.he has to choose the right words or sentences or pictures and needs to eliminate the wrong ones.Sometimes I can make it quite hard for him to make choices ,giving him quite close, tricky answer options…so he has to think about and he needs to link it or more choices with the story.. It is an important area I also want him to improve, problem solving..I focus on creating visual materials,booklets,stories…Wishing you and Robert to success on this concept.

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