Thursday, June 29, 2006

Ch-ch-ch-changes

I have been busy trying to update my Bachelors degree in Mental Disabilities K-12 in order to obtain sustainance, together with the fact that Ben may go to college or tech school, and unless things change, he probably won't be looking at scholarships.

In South Carolina, the state has a wonderful service that ties the school districts together with teachers who are looking for work, both in geographic and particular subject areas. Although I have been told Special Ed jobs are relatively easy to find, in a five district area, I have not come cross more than 10 or so I was qualified for.

I had three districts down as places I would like to work for over a month. I changed to add 2 more...AND...THEY CALLED ME WITHIN HOURS!

The Director of Special Education was impressed (I'm quite an actress..... :) ) and sent me on to the Principal of an area elementary school. Fooled him too, and he offered me a job based on references/certification checking out.

The interesting thing, and the reason why I am boring you with the details is: this district is establishing a sizable fund for getting augumentive communication boards for the students, and I would be instrumental in helping out with that!

Thank you, Ballastexistenz, for you timely article.

I've got some reading to do.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Chapter 21---The Little Prince

The fox begs the Prince to tame him, which the Prince finally agrees to do, by arriving at 4 o'clock each afternoon and sitting a bit closer to the fox each time. In a few days the fox is eager for the arrival of the Prince and begins to look forward to it at three, and spends an hour in anticipation. Once tamed, the fox is sad to think the Prince must leave.

But the fox has taught the Prince two invaluable lessons, and a very important secret.

Lesson 1: Before we make a friend, people are like any of thousands of others in the world; once befriended, they become unique to us.

Lesson 2: We become reponsible, forever, for what we have tamed.

The secret is very simple:
It is only with the heart that one can see rightly;
What is essential is invisible to the eye
.


I read The Little Prince in high school. Reading it again to Ben the last few nights, the secret was the only thing that I remembered, only after reading it again did that feeling of deja vu hit me.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Teacher or friend

Our kids are so sensitive to the feelings of others...if we are anxious, a lot of times this feeds their own anxiety.

I am trying to find out exactly what way is best to teach our kids. I can't help but come back to the feeling that if there is no relationship between the child and the teacher, no peaceful feeling, that it will serve as a block, and whatever "wisdom" we choose to impart will be like the child who lives in fear of the parent; they try to please them to avoid punishment...but there is no growth. I am a little uncomfortable bringing up ABA, because of the bad feelings it imparts on many. It has never been my intention to hurt others.

I loved my teachers. There was a kindness there, almost like a mother, and one wanted to please them because their "acceptance" was like a drug.

I've often heard that one wants to be a child's parent, not their friend, and use that idea to justify abuse. I think a parent should be a childs friend, and, in addition, a parent, with all the responsibilities that entails. I think a teacher should be a child's friend, and above and beyond that a mentor. When Jannalou said that one of her "rewards" was to do anything to make her students laugh...I thought, she's got it! Shared laughter is the best form of communication, a wonderful bridge. It's a hard thing to do sometimes for kids with autism, but what a goal to shoot for!

I want to go into teaching again, and with the grace of God, a teacher of kids with autism. I just want to know the best way to go about it. I just wanted to get these thoughts out before I leave.

I will be heading off to DC for a week. Let's hope there is no retaliation for recent events in Iraq!

I am so thankful to be a part of this hub. I will miss the wisdom it imparts.

Friday, June 02, 2006

ABA--the baby and the bath water

I used Catherine Maurice's (editor) ABA book to teach Ben language. It was phenominal in it's breadth. We worked for about an hour or two a day for a year, with NO behavioral aspects (sit here, look at me, do this...), only the language component. Ever since I found out Janna had onced worked the ABA circuit, I've been dying to find out a little of her opinion of it.

So, I just asked her. And she answered, bless her heart! Thank you, "Miss" Janna !(Southern term of respect, y'all...)

Forget Lovaas, or the JRC guy. They can rot, for all I care. But there is something else there that the teacher in me can't throw out.

My questions are in bold, Janna's answers in regular type--hope that's kosher! I wanted to get this out, although I will be asking a couple of other people Janna suggested, just to get a feel for the "good" side of ABA, as I see it, if there is one.

I remember when I graduated from college with my special Ed degree...the hardest thing to understand was kids who were wired visually or kinesthetically to learn...YET, they end up being 90% of the kids in special ed, according to my friend who is a speech pathologist, often the first "professional" to see our kids. Any way I, as a teacher/mom can wrap my head around it makes me happy. Any way I can help improve best practices makes my life worth living...( can you say D_R_A_M_A- Queen ?)


1) When Ben was young, I used the language component of Catherine Maurice's edited book about "Behavioral Intervention for Young Children with Autism," To your knowledge, was the ABA you used based on this or any similar book or particular practice?

Yes, it was. Catherine Maurice's book was based on the Lovaas-style ABA that I was initially trained to use, back in August 1999. Many of the programs we taught were straight out of her book, in fact, for many of the children I've worked with.


2) What do you feel was the primary educational component of the ABA you used--language or behavior? Was one more difficult to teach than the other?

Language through behaviour. I don't distinguish between the two. I know some people do, but honestly, I consider language to be a type of behaviour. (Meanwhile, not all behaviour is communication.) But the programs I worked in were (thankfully) not focussed on controlling unwanted behaviours.


3) Some teaching is by nature directed to the needs of the child, and some is directed toward helping the child to pass pre-established criteria. Criticism of the first is that it is not structured, and of the second that it is teacher-centered. Which do you feel the ABA teaching standards you used fell under?

By and large, the programs I worked in were specifically geared towards teaching the child to "pass as normal" - meet specific goals, etc. I think there is a middle ground that nobody has quite managed to find just yet. I have in my head a way to do it, but haven't been able to make it happen, and may never choose to do it, either.


4) Were any aversives used, and if so, what were they?

When potty-training, we had a child wash out his underwear in cold water when he soiled himself.
Over-correction was used in another program, on a 2yo boy. Horrible, horrible, horrible. I regret to report that I was very good at this.
Tx: Do this. (Stand up, turn around, sit down. Count to three slowly to see if child will comply.)
St: (Sitting in chair, gazing at ceiling. Probably smiling.)
Tx: No. Do this. (Stand up, turn around, sit down, grab child, stand him up, spin him around really fast three times in a row, sit him down.)
St: (Not smiling anymore.)
**Repeat the above until you get the following**
Tx: Do this. (Stand up, turn around, sit down. Count to three slowly to see if child will comply.)
St: (Crying at this point, stands up very slowly and turns around slowly, making vocalisations.)
Tx: Good for you! Go play!
I think there were probably others, but they were very mild and mostly in the form of a mild "no".


Were any rewards used, and if so, what were they?

Constantly. Toys, tickles, songs, candies, piggyback rides, sparkly things, Silly Putty, books... if the kid likes it, I use it.


5) Were you a part of a taxpayer covered program, or did you teach in a private school? If private, were the fees for entering children exorbitant or reasonable?

I taught in people's homes. Mostly a base hourly pay from the government (which is never enough to actually live on unless you're an actual consultant); parents use their respite money to pay for ABA, and they will often top up the pay so they can keep you if they like you enough and can afford it.


6) What did you enjoy the most about teaching ABA to children with autism? What did you enjoy the least? (If this is too personal, leave it out.)

I loved the children. Getting to know them, their families. Spending time with them. Seeing them learn. Playing with them. Finding ways to make them laugh. Coming up with new ways to teach them things. Devising programs. Designing data sheets.

I hated being stuck within methodologies that didn't recognise that these kids were *children*, not machines. I hated the two-facedness of the consultants. I didn't like working for cure-oriented parents. I hated the "production-oriented" mentality of the whole thing.


THERE...I think that is about everything I could possibly want to ask. Thanks for even considering it. I enjoy your posts and artwork quite a bit!
Thanks for the compliment and the opportunity. I look forwards to more dialog!

Perhaps others in the Hub would like to engage me in such discourse...Janna
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