Searching for Equilibrium in Teaching

February 2, 2016

In my efforts to introduce Robert to as many aspects of human experience as possible I often lose balance.  I emphasize one subject or one skill while neglecting others.  Had Robert had an ability to extrapolate or to generalize what he seemed to learn during our sessions to other environments or situations that wouldn’t cause any problems.  However, I have the impression that the moment Robert leaves our table, his mind switches to a different mode of functioning. It is as if someone move the flashlight from one screen to another.  The problem is, I don’t know what that second screen presents.

When a typical child learns calendar skills, he soon utilizes those skills almost everyday either anticipating events in the future or recalling the past happenings. That means that the child puts all the occurrences on his or her personal time line. Although in the past, Robert had an ability to find what was the date a few months before or a few months after another date, presently he is unable to do that.  He didn’t have opportunity to utilize this skill.  His planning for the future is limited to the following day and his ability to recall the past doesn’t travel further back than one or two days.  Only lately, Robert grasped the idea that some activities happen on the same day of the week and he starts looking forward to them.

Sadly, I have been doing it all wrong.  Instead of asking Robert what date will be three and five days from now, I should help Robert extend his ability to anticipate those events that are important to HIM so he could more consciously  wait for them, count the time till they happen, or plan those special days in the future himself.  The calendar should be a tool helping Robert understand the passing of the time as it relates to his life. Without that understanding the abstract calendar skills are useless.

Two day ago, Robert and I were working with Functional Routines for Adolescents & Adults, Home,  reading a section about cleaning the bathroom. Robert was looking at the four pictures while I read texts related to them.  We did the same thing almost a year ago. At that time, we read the text on the beginner level while recently I read the slightly more complex text on the intermediate level. After I read  Robert, with the help of the pictures, answered a few questions from the book.  I reviewed the steps taken by the boy doing the cleaning in the workbook and told Robert that we would do similar things but in a different order. And then we began.  Robert put on the gloves. That was not something the boy in the workbook did, but given Robert tendency to eczema, it was necessary step.  Robert needed a few suggestions and a few corrections, but with the exception of the bathtub,  he did most of the cleaning by himself.

I planned that the following day we would clean second, smaller bathroom, but we didn’t, because of a few changes in our schedules.  We would do that today. And maybe then our teaching-learning will regain some sort of equilibrium.






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