Monday, August 30, 2010

The Ultra Modified Assignment on Heroes

At the end of 2009/10 school year, this "super mom" and C1's Super teachers (general education and resource room) did their best last Spring to get C1 to do as much of a two part assignment on heroes as possible. The assignment came during a year when C1's behavior had been less then super.

Super mom attended trainings all that year that taught school teams and parents how to help children on the autism spectrum succeed. She attended September through March, and then proceeded to move with her family across the country. By the time she reached this new school, where the hero assignment was given, she concluded that C1 needed to be included in a general education environment, and that the focus should be on good behavior rather than output. (C1 had been refusing to do school work for most of the year).

For one part of the assignment, students were asked to research and report on either a historical hero or a public figure who is shaping current history. Figures like Martin Luther King Jr., Hellen Keller, and Albert Einstein were chosen. Finding a costume to wear while presenting the report was also part of the assingment.

The second part was to choose a personal hero. Many chose their mom or dad. Then students created a book about their hero. The fourth graders then invited their personal heroes to the school so that they could hear see the student all dressed up as the respectively chosen historical figure while listening to the reports. The teacher and students also invited all the personal heroes to a reception in their classroom afterward. The kids then gave their books to their respective hero at the reception.

To make a long story short, Super mom was delighted when C1 got up in front of a crowd to read a six page (the pages were small) report on Barack Obama. That was the good news. The not so good news was that she could tell that the school team wasn't as impressed (not that she blamed them, because they had not been in our shoes, so they really couldn't have known just how difficult the year had been).
Super mom knew they weren't impressed because reading the report was the only thing C1 did. He didn't research the historical hero. He didn't dress up. And he didn't write a book on personal heroes. However, he almost also didn't read the report, and if he hadn't of done so then this exhausted mom's morale would have become completely deflated.

Yes, I realize that we have a long way to go from that minimal success. However, at the time I really needed to rejoice in the wee bit that was accomplished and not the vast amount that went unfinished. In time I hope we can all expect more output from C1. Assignments for kids with autism often need to be modified, but maybe not so much to that extent. However, at the moment, the circumstances were extraordinary. Perhaps now that we have settled in more, maybe more can be expected from C1.

So with my morale intact, I'm gearing up to face a new school year that begins in exactly one week. C1 one usually does great with compliance at the beginning of a school year, so there is some hope that the year will at least start out well. I'll also take time to see if addressing possible medical needs will help, because one's health can affect one's behavior. Hence we will see a few more specialists.
That said, there probably won't be any more hero assignments in the near future, but let's hope that the journey of our"hero" (C1, the figure that seems to dominate this blog) will have much more success at school in the future.


Casdok said...

Well done C1. Getting up in front of a crowd and reading! Excellent. Especially with everything you have had to contend with.
Good luck with the start of school :)

Deniz said...

Hi Julie.

C1 is your son? I was wondering if he goes to a main stream school in the States or a school designed for children with Autism?

I'm over on the other side of the great big pond and I've always wanted to know what the education system/school is like for children with Autism.

Are they well taken care of by the state or is it a battle to get the best for your child?

Julie L. said...

Casdok: thanks!
Deniz: yes, C1 is my son. He's 12 and is temporarily in a mainstreaming program. It's not working though, so we're working on getting him in a program designed by the school system for students with a higher level of need.

I could and maybe should probably write a book on what education is like in the U.S. Parents have the option for paying for private education here, but most go for public education which is paid for by government. It is the law here (look up IDEA) that all kids are entitled to a free and appropriate public education. That law was desinged to require schools to meet the educational needs of children with disabilites. If the parent is unhappy with how the school is treating their child, a lawsuit (parents against their respective district) could ensue.

Whether or not the kids are well taken care of or not depends on the district. In the United STates people who have that financial ability, often choose where to live based on how good the reputation of the school. As far as disabilites go, one district can treat students fairly and appropriately, while a neighboring one might have have a reputation for not treating students with disabilites so well.

It's the same with programs or classrooms for autism. There is a program in a community nearby that has autism classrooms. However, my district doesns't. We are new to our district so we are just finding out what the options are for our son as mainstreaming (called inclusion here) is not working for him.

I Hope that explanation helps. Please let me know if you need me to clarify something.