Many years ago, at my children’s inclusive elementary school, I was asked to observe in a fifth-grade classroom, and to share my ideas on better strategies for Chris, a boy with autism.
Chris received intensive adult support: a teacher’s aide usually sat right next to him. During a spelling test, Chris told her how to spell each word, and she wrote for him since his writing was illegible to everyone except Chris. But most of her efforts were to keep Chris in his seat. It was painful to watch as—every few minutes—Chris fidgeted and started to rise, and a gentle, but firm, hand on his shoulder kept him in his seat.
Long-story short: I ran to my son’s first-grade classroom to borrow his laptop computer for Chris to try out. During the next two hours, Chris was captivated as he explored all the programs on the computer; he never once tried to get up; and when he discovered the word processing program, he found the letters on the keyboard to type his name, had an ah-ha look on his face, and said, “Mrs. Snow, if I had one of these [a computer] I could take spelling tests all by myself.” Indeed he could—and he and I both laughed with glee!
Chris was so thoroughly engaged with the computer that he never felt the need to “escape.” Click here to continue.
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