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I had a breakthrough with one of the two most difficult kids in my class yesterday. He is — we believe — undiagnosed with Asperger’s. He is diagnosed wtih ADHD and was taken off of his medications this summer — he started school without them and that got us off to an exceptionally rough start. It was really difficult. Now, his medication for ADHD is settling into his system again and things are getting much, much better.
One of the most difficult areas for him academically is writing — he doesn’t see himself as a writer and resists (often quite fiercely) any attempt to get him to write. At an SST, his parents mentioned that he has a journal at home that he loves to write and draw in. So, I got his classroom journal out and told him that it was available whenever he wanted to draw/write in it.
And out poured monsters . . . nearly a dozen cool, creepy, Halloween-inspired monsters. They are wonderful — he colors them carefully and richly with colored pencils. Wow!
So, I had him come sit with me one day when the class was writing and I wrote down his words about the monsters. I asked him questions . . . what does it to when it sees people? What does it smell like? What does it sound like? Where does it live? He answered them with creative, thoughtful answers. (This is also amazing because he is so literal and factual about things so getting highly imaginative answers was really exciting). I wrote the words on a separate piece of paper as he is very obsessive about his work being his and only his — if I write on a page of his work, he freaks out.
The next day, I wrote up a little CLOZE paragraph for him . . .
My monster’s name is _____. My monster likes to _____ people. My monster smells like ______. My monster is ________.
and I asked him to take the words I’d written down for him and write about his monsters on their pages in his book. I honestly thought I’d get a lot of resistance but he ran with it. He wrote and wrote and wrote.
I was so thrilled and I have an idea of how he can participate in Social Studies now which has previously been a gargantuan waste of time for him because the skills needed to do the work were beyond him.
And, before you ask, yes, we are working on getting him diagnosed correctly so that he can get the help that he needs to be successful in school but these things take time. So, we celebrate the minor victories that help him see himself as a successful student who is moving ahead and learning necessary skills to be successful in school.
And on days like that, I get to glow with the knowledge that for that kid at that moment, I did something right. Yahoo!