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I love having a teacher’s brain! And Rett loves the ocean

November 2, 2011

I remember when I was in 10th grade and I finally had a math teacher that could teach me math. I always did great at everything but math. I don’t really know why. I thought at first it was because it was algebra but I didn’t do well in Algebra II or college algebra prep OR college algebra so I’m left believing it was the teacher.  He asked me one day if I thought everyone could be a teacher.   I thought he was asking me because my mom is a teacher but now I wonder if he could see it already. I saw many of my students that had a teacher’s brain.

 

You do not have to be a teacher to have a teacher’s brain.  Some of my six year olds were wonderful teachers.  I’m not ready to hand them a degree just yet but when a six year old doesn’t ‘get it’ sometimes another six year old can fill in the gaps you do not even see.  If they have a teacher’s brain.

 

A teacher’s brain seeks curiosity.  It looks for that glimmer in the eyes when the student wants to know something.  It seeks a way to show.  A way to open up discovery.  Because if I tell you the answer, you don’t really understand.  A teacher’s brain gets this.  I can walk through Wal Mart or Target or Hobby Lobby and see a thousand things to teach down the aisles.  Tools for discovery, things to paint with.  Ideas for teaching my first graders still come to me and I realize I have no real necessity for these ideas its very sad.   I really wish I could go into the classroom the next day and try out all these things. Because the only thing more exciting to a teacher’s brain then coming up with a great idea is seeing the glimmer of curiosity turn into the look of knowledge.  To see understanding ease the furrowed brow of frustration.

 

When we are playing, I look for natural ways to work in skills or knowledge that I’m hoping for Rett to gain.  He does not do well with many planned activities yet.  I have found a lot of great home school web sites on how to work from tot school (child led learning) to preschool (teacher led learning) which I think is going to be SO incredibly great for him.   But for now we will do what he wants and work things into that schedule. It seems to be going well.

 

I’ve been reading alot about Montessori Tot School/Preschool based learning.  I think straight Montessori is a little too crunchy for me but I like a lot of the ideas and basic organization.  One of the ideas I got was transferring sudsy water in the sink from one bowl to the other.  This seemed cheap enough! Plus my kid loves water and bubbles.  So he set to work.  The main part is expanding on this activity.  Could this be pretend cooking? Could this be pretend cleaning?  Could the bowls turn into bath tubs for baby dolls?  Well for us.. they were of course the ocean because that’s what my kid is into.

 

And this is when the activity really takes off. Suddenly you aren’t just transferring bubbles.  He is catching sharks and fish. He is telling me what color the fish are. He’s counting.  He’s learning what ‘keep the water in the sink’ means.  And when we are all done, he helps dry off everything and put it away.   He also worked on turning the sink off and on.   A lot accomplished with a sink full of sudsy water.

 

A few other things going on around here. Last night, Tom was playing with him in his room.  Rett really likes to jump and be active so I put my newborn bean bag in there and pulled it close to his window seat.  So now he can climb onto his window seat and jump onto the bean bag.  Then he can jump onto the floor.  This sounds like madness but using his body like this really turns his verbal brain power on.  Tom was working with him to say ‘watch me jump!’ ‘i want to jump!’ ‘I’m ok!’ and they were having a lot of fun.  While they were in there, Rett ran to the window and looked outside and said ‘Look! a tractor!’ and wanted Tom to come look.  There was no tractor out there. I don’t know if he was pretending to see it or what was going on but he repeated the same thing to me today during lunch looking out the dining room window.

 

Today during early intervention, he asked to fly which means for me to pick him up and fly him around. Then he said ‘I’m a butterfly!’ Lisa (early intervention) almost passed out in shock! We have never modeled or told him any of this but so far while ‘flying’ he’s been a balloon, an air plane and now a butterfly.

 

Today he also asked to go somewhere specific for the very first time. He’s been asking to go ‘bye bye’ for awhile. Both of my kids are goers but he’s never told me where he wants to go. He’d just like to get out of here. Today he went to the door and said ‘castle? I want castle. Go bye bye castle.’  This means speech.  Because that’s where the castle is.  I asked him if he wanted to go see Miss Rachael ‘Go see Miss. Rachael, play castle!’   I’m so excited that there is a castle waiting in the attic for a certain little boy for Christmas!  And I’m also so glad he requested this because I honestly wondered sometime if the outside world just sort of disappears once we come home.

 

Rett seems to go through skill bursts. I don’t know if other autistic children progress this way but he seems to just be going along and then in one day he does 4 or 5 new things.  Then we go along for awhile and the same thing happens! Its exciting to see him learning new things. It also means less for me to teach him which is awesome! The more he just naturally picks up on, the better off he is.  It will be less forced if he truly ‘gets it’ without just doing what he’s told.

 

Rett also asked me for help today.  Usually if something is broken or not working right he says ‘I’ll do it’ or ‘I’ll fix it’.   Really meaning I will.  So I’ve been prompting him to say ‘help, mama!’ or ‘Help me, mama!’  Today he was playing with Mr. Potato Head and the back storage area broke and he said ‘help!’.  Woohoo! Hopefully he will keep spontaneously using that without prompting.

 

I asked Dr. Kellie about Evie’s hand flapping and tensing up.  She said as long as it doesn’t interfere with her play and social skills, its nothing to worry about. She may have some sensory processing issues when she gets excited. We just have to wait and see.  She may also outgrow it.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. November 2, 2011 6:45 pm

    What a wonderful post! As always, I feel inspired to try these ideas out for us!

    I think you’ve made a great connection with the bean bag and how it ignites speech! The proprioceptive sensory system is almost always one of the best to focus on in our children on the spectrum! It has a magical way of organizing their little brains and behaviors. For Sam, one of his favorite activities under this heading is heavy work. When he has to work to push and pull things, it really makes him more connected to his world around him. They say that any of these proprioceptive sensory activities can be done up to 30 minutes before a time when you are wanting them to sit still or learn or practice speech, etc. and having done the activity ahead of time helps turn that all on. If that makes sense! I sooooo wish we lived close! I think we would have so much fun sharing ideas, sharing stories, letting our other kids play, etc.

    Oh, I also wanted to say that I live in constant fear, of every little thing Noah does that it is a sign that he is on the spectrum. I think we will always live like this! I’m hoping that once he is older and kind of past the point where it could be diagnosed (if there is such an age), I’ll take a deep breath. But in the meantime, I see autism everywhere, and it becomes difficult to separate normal childhood behavior and those that are part of a disorder.

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