A Candle of Inspiration...
A Lesson Learned
by Meg McCarthy, aka JPM
I am a firm believer that everyone on this earth is here to teach and to learn from people, whether it is teaching a lesson by example or by teaching someone in your life a certain lesson you feel they need to learn. I haven't quite figured out whether I have taught anything to anyone yet, other than ABC's and 123's in my previous job. That hasn't bothered me as much as thinking that I haven't yet felt that anyone has really taught me anything wonderfully important. I wanted one of those life-changing lessons...the kind you remember with a smile, or perhaps a frown, knowing that you could have done better or made a better choice.
I love taking personality tests. They are sometimes goofy but I enjoy taking them. I remember one personality test that marked me as a protector. I was warned that sometimes this could lead to trouble as people with this type of personality tend to get involved with others thinking they can change them or their lives, and wind up emotionally hurt and frustrated when that doesn't happen. I recognized that this had happened to me in the past. But there was nothing I could do except focus my protective energy elsewhere.
Okay, now on to the real story. I am a paraprofessional (teacher's aide) to a third grade boy who is autistic. I follow him throughout the day in his program, which is pretty much full inclusion except for reading instruction. I enjoy working one on one with him and we seem to have bonded pretty well, or so the other teachers tell me.
This student's favorite class is music. He loves to sing and dance and the music teacher is wonderful. I am amazed because, unlike other classes, there are no chairs and the students sit on the floor and get to move about a lot. It's my favorite class as well.
On this particular day in music class we listened to Here Comes the Sun. The music teacher was giving out points to anyone who could name anything about the music, anything that they heard or any theories they had about the music. Students responded with, "I hear guitars," "There is a steady beat," "I hear drums," and so on. Normally, my student wouldn't say anything, as comprehension is not one of his strong points. Neither is making choices, and he hates those "Why?" questions. However all the students were raising their hands and up went my student's hand. Afraid that he was simply imitating the hand raising of others and was going to get called on and would not have anything to say, I (the protector) started asking him, "What do you want to say?" Each time he replied many times with, "Wait!" Getting more and more nervous that when he got called upon, the situation would blow up in his face, I began wishing I had a sort of ping pong paddle shaped sign with green on one side and red on the other that I could just hold up to the teachers so I could signal yes...he is on task, or no...he isn't.
Well, the music teacher called on everyone else who was raising his or her hand and then looked at me. I shrugged my shoulders, uncertain about the boy's intention and worried he really had nothing to contribute and some unpleasantness would follow.
But I needn't have worried. When finally called upon, my student explained in his own way that he thought there were people in the song talking to each other, that one person was talking to another person. The music teacher provided the word "conversation." My student acknowledged "Yes," that was what he meant, and he was awarded points!
When he looked at me, I swear his smile was saying, "Trust in me a little. Trust me that I will have the right answers. You don't have to protect me as much as you think you do." I guess lessons are all around us.
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