Monday, January 12, 2009

Just Give him the Whale; 20 Ways to Use Fascination, Areas of Expertise and Strenghs to Support Students with Autism.

Image: "Just Give Him The Whale!:" 20 Ways to Use Fascination, Areas of Expertise and Strengths to Support Students with Autism by Paula Kluth and Patrick Schwarz. Attention Mt. Pleasant area residents: This book is in the collection at Central Michigan University's library (or will be once I return it.)

Ten Reasons to Read "Just Give Him the Whale!"

1. The book demonstrates to teachers how to connect and teach students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) by using the special interests of students with autism. It was inspired by a student on the spectrum who was fascinated by whales.

2. The book is meant for general education teachers who have a fully included student with ASD, but is also great for special education teachers, and all college students studying education. The book can be used as a college text, but most people should find this one easy and enjoyable to read. It is only 143 pages long.

3. There are also some great tips for parents. My next post will be about power cards, which I had not heard of until reading this book. My own tip is to mention or show this book to teachers who work with your child.

4. This book is well written by professionals in the field of education. Paula Kluth, Ph.D, is a consultant, teacher, author and independent scholar who works with teachers and family to provide inclusive opportunities for students. Patrick Schwarz, Ph.D, is Professor of Special Education and Chair of Diversity in Learning and Development for National-Louis University, Chicago.

5. This book convinces readers that special interests can be used to teach students on a range of topics from proper behavior in the classroom to the core subjects in the classroom such as math and reading.

6. The artwork and layout of the book is delightful. The cover art was created by Justin Canha, an individual on the autism spectrum. (Am hoping to do a post about him later in the week.)

7. This book is helpful because many people on the spectrum tend to have a specialized interest whether it is basketball, manhole covers, ceiling fans, calendars, or frogs.

8. Appendix A focuses on frequently asked questions in regards to using special interests to educate students on the spectrum. This section addresses many of the concerns that have come up on this topic.

9. Appendix B has great lists of references. The first list is of autobiographies written by people with autism and Asperger Syndrome. The second list is autobiographies written by families of people with autism and Asperger Syndrome. The third list is titled Other Strengths-focused Resources. As this last list is a short bibliography on special interests which is the focus for the week, I am hoping to share this list in a post sometime this week.

10. The book reveals that the idea of using special interests in the classroom has not always been well received. I was rather surprised to read this because my child's special interest in frogs has been embraced by his teachers. It never occurred to me that someone might think avoiding a child's special interest is a good idea. My thought on this is why wouldn't someone use a such a good bridge to reach a student? Using special interests to reach someone just seems sensible.


Casdok said...

Sounds like a great resource.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting! Thanks for this info! My son (almost 5) loves Potato Head, letters, and Geo Trax trains and tracks. I have had mixed reviews about his special interests. Some of his teachers/specialists have said to downplay or limit time with these and some have said to use them to the fullest. Leaves a mom wondering what to do! :)Hide or highlight? What's a mom to do? :)

colleen said...

This is a very interesting concept. I have a daughter on the spectrum who was struggling with reading, she is also obssessed with horses. Her resource room teacher gave up on the "reading curriculum" that the school uses and started letting her read every horse book she could find and it worked. My daughter picked up on the site words and went from there. She now loves to read about everything.