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The seasons change, there are new anxieties in life and we all need breaks. We live in cars, in buildings and we don’t get out much.
This is one of the most fundamental obstacle I can think of in how we teach children in general – in chairs for too long, in small rooms, with little outdoor exercise because of liability issues. If Adam had an outdoor learning environment as a major part of his learning experience, I think he would be able to take in much more (outdoor education is decreasing but can be made accessible to people with disabilities).
The darkness brought about a new mood, Adam’s ticking went off the charts and he started a new tick – a screaming tick.
He wasn’t happy – he couldn’t stop it as the pressure mounted on him to stop.
I am certain some of Adam’s stress comes from having very little autonomy, and although he is strong and willful (which I believe will bode him well), if you can’t communicate fluently in our society, or you can’t cross the street by yourself, your autonomy is limited.
This, of course, is where the concept of supported-decision making and assistance comes in, but assistants (and parents) really need to understand this and how to be good listeners (for some reading, look to Val Williams’ conversational analyses between caregivers and non-verbal individuals).
It would be wonderful for schools and educators to think about this a little more – to integrate movement into every aspect of the day including field trips and outdoor activities – even in inclement weather (my parents never protected me from it).
These are all the signs that had to be put into effect.
This is a problematic approach because we cannot know how Adam feels on the inside, yet we have lots of autistic autobiography to help us.
When we tried redirecting Adam with a behavioural approach, this enraged him – he smashed himself into the couch and crumpled the paper from his Zeotrope in his little fists and threw them to the ground.
In the summer with lots of activity, for instance, he can talk more – and this is a feat for someone like Adam.
It is therefore very difficult to be talking grades, assessments, intelligence and so forth without recognizing that, living in the settings that are the way they are, that my autistic son will be delayed in his learning.