Monday, February 27, 2012

Tweets of the Week: Learning Differently

Mom working with her autistic child.
Learning differently leads us to much research.

Why does autism happen?

Several interviews with persons who have autism. This gives amazing insight into the experience. Please listen to them, autism speaks.

All kids find sensitive moms a blessing, but children with disabilities in particular. Soon I will share more information on 'Gentle Teaching' and other non-aggressive forms of behavior modification.

Emotionally Disturbed is a category of learning disability. The learning team is made up of family, medical staff, teaching staff, and, of course, the student. This is an article from the L A Times about a little girl named January diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Jani draws a picture of her imaginary pet, 400 Cat.

How is mental illness and other processing disabilities identified? BTW, I don't know why this article places learning or processing disorders  under the category of mental illness.
One is not connected to the other.

Teacher for the Emotionally Disturbed teaching reading
An effective class for the Emotionally Disturbed is orderly, interesting, and empowering. Here is a glimpse of one that made it to the news--there are thousands of great programs that do not get publicity.

What are the classroom policies?

"As hard as it is, Luna doesn’t let sympathy for her students interfere with her ability to help them. Her teaching style is loving but firm. She sings fun songs, imitates animal sounds and ends books with a spirited shout of “Ta da!”
"At times, she is picky about even the little things, like whether students raise their hands and how they walk across the classroom. It's all part of retraining their brains to behave in a school appropriate manner. They won’t get out of completing their work, no matter how much they whine, protest or act out."

These are comments from her administrator.

“Jennifer is structured yet flexible and genuinely cares about every student she has,” Alexander said. “The children know they can count on her. She works and works and works until something works.”
Lots of individual attention--here is hand-over-hand writing.

Here is an incident during the schoolday:

 One morning in early December, Luna sat with a student wading through a book about babies. When they finished, Luna turned back to the first page so they could read it again.
The student, who had not learned to control his emotions, banged his left fist on the table.

“Why are we reading it again?” he demanded. “I don’t want to read this dumb baby book.”
He continued to slouch in his chair and then threw himself on the floor. Luna made no eye contact.
Teacher reading with student.
When she got up to help another student, the boy moved to the top of a table. By the time Luna returned, he was back in his chair. She started to read the book, and slowly he began reading with her.

"Because of bad experiences in preschool, this student is working through old hurts." Luna said students often feel bad because they don’t know how to read or do math problems as well as others do. Compared to what he used to get upset about, Luna says this incident was minor.
“In May, he’ll be walking back to table to read without whining,” she said with confidence.

A wonderful accomplishment: playing together.
 I have experience teaching students designated emotionally disturbed. This teaching assignment is very rewarding as well as requiring authentic professionalism on a superior level. Our students had family, counselors, teaching staff and other therapists that were tremendous. It was a privilege to serve on their teams.

Here is a dramatic graphic presentation of Van Gogh's painting  'Starry Night.'  Vincent Van Gogh was hospitalized late in his life for what sounds now like bi-polar disorder or schizophrenia. But did that affect his painting? Who knows. New research suggests he may have been murdered. This is a moving creation of his work. (Sorry about the pun.)

Detail, one of Van Gogh's paintings of sunflowers
 We had the opportunity to see "Sunflowers" at the National Museum in London last summer--a deep experience of profound communication from the artist to the viewer that I can't fully explain.  Wouldn't it be powerful if all of us-- labeled 'handicapped' or not-- could find our venue to reach out to others like Vincent Van Gogh did?

Don McClean's "Starry, Starry Night" beautifully describes Van Gogh's effect on people. This is a slow version of the song. The YouTube presenter's choice of paintings is exquisite. Maybe YouTube should be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize afterall.