06 April 2007

scotland thoughts pt 1

On having autistic/special needs kids in workshops:

These were the first workshops I had any sort of special needs kids, which was quite the experience for me. Mostly so, because I was amazed at how compassionate and accomodating the other kids were. But also because I was pleasantly surprised at how they got on in the workshops.

There was one kid who was autistic who insisted that everything be yellow and that it had to have a clock. He was working in a group with four other kids. They all wanted to make a car. So they talked with him, and he was insisting clock, so they came up with making a car driving around a yellow clock. They started making the car, yellow car for the boy, and he set off making a yellow clock. He made the structure to hold it and they all worked together to get it all together. In the end, it was a yellow car flying around Big Ben. During the two hours I had with them, they were all engaged and happily working.

At another workshop, there was this kid who had a hard time doing anything. One of the helpers I had was really good with him, though, and would sit and talk to him about what he was doing. The kid set about making a scoop to pick things up (like... the motor spins around and has a scoop to grab things at the bottom). He stayed busy the entire time, though I don't know that he was really able to do much. His teammates were very nice and tried to give him things that they thought he could do, and included him on everything on the project.

Another girl, the last day, was this special needs kid who also had hearing aids. And apparently when she got bored or didn't want to do something, she would switch her hearing aids off and then they'd take her back to the special ed part of the school. She had done just that earlier that day at a K'nex workshop, so I was worried about how she would take mine. But she stayed until the very end, working away on making a basket full of easter eggs and helping make this chicken popping out of an egg. She seemed really happy to work on what she wanted, and her group was happy to have her do that.

And the last kid, somewhat autistic. A little slow seeming when you talked to him. He was the guy who helped everything but who didn't really come up with anything on his own. But he was really useful for the group getting their thing done (a penguin with a fish in its mouth with flapping arms and chewing mouth). When one of the visiting teachers asked what he had been working on, he said "nothing," but the rest of the team started saying "no no no... you did this and this and this and you helped with this. you were kinda the manager." Which I thought was really sweet.

Anyway. It was interesting for me to see how they worked and how they worked in the groups. And it was good to see that, for the most part, they all found something to do to help the overall progress of the projects.

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