They got me! (off topic)

It isn’t often that a commercial makes me sit up and say, “Oh Yeah!”  But this one for Apple IPad has.

As a retired educator I can tell you that Autism is on the rise.  I had a child with Autism in my class many of the years that I taught and for those children access to a computer was key to their learning process.

Teaching a child with Autism is not easy.  I can’t sugar coat it.   Some days were truly exasperating.  But for every day that my patience was tried there were four more that made me cry for joy.  Those were the days when I could find my way into their focus.

I imagine Autism to be like looking at the world through a pinhole, your focus is perfect but limited to what is just visible through the tiny hole.  That’s where I came in.  I had to be able to find that focus and then introduce all the rest of the world into it… one frame at a time.

For example:  I had a student who was brilliant at writing and loved it.  This child could write all day, if given the choice to do so, but seemed unable to write on topic   And spelling?  It was not happening for this little person.

One day I asked, “Do you watch the news on TV with your parents?”

Child:  “Yes.”

Me:   “Do you know what a news reporter is?  You know, the person who tells you about what happened that day?”

Child: “Yes.”

Me:  “Well, I need you to be a reporter when you write.  I need you to tell me the facts that you know about [the topic] in your writing just like the reporter on TV does.  He never tells you about what happened to him.  He only tells you about the topic.  Then when you get done reporting you can write about whatever you would like me to know!  Do you think you could do that for me?”

Child:  “Sure!”

It worked.  Later in the year, after extensive professional testing and evaluation, access to a computer was recommended for this child to help with the spelling issue.  This was a very freeing tool!  Once the child did not have to worry about spelling, then the writing really began to flow!  It was amazing to see a child of predominantly one word responses express so much information both “on topic” and off.

So, although I am not a MAC person, and I write to you on a PC, I nevertheless get excited about the IPad and its potential to free the minds and learning experiences for Autistic children everywhere.

Have a look!

Note:  To read about the personal experience of one of the children in this YouTube video read here:  http://www.blogher.com/my-son-topsecret-apple-ipad-project

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