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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Tales From The Classroom

("Tales from the Classroom" is a feature posted occasionally here at this blog.  All tales are true and present matters about which I have personal knowledge.  Note: If you must have politics or discuss Ebola, please scroll down to other posts)

The video below presents information about autistics who have found a way to communicate via RPM. I have one such student in my class this year and refer to him as "the letter board kid" in casual conversations with my friends. He's brilliant — but different, of course.

I have long stated that my personal hero is Annie Sullivan, so it doesn't surprise those who know me that I like to work with those who have learning differences. Indeed, over the years I have found that those who are different bring something new to the table and often have unique insights.

Please watch the following short video, which clearly shows that not all with autism are hopeless cases:

Ah, the mysterious human brain!


  1. How wonderful for these children! Is RPM something very new?
    To understand what they are feeling about their inability to communicate is a real eye opener.

    1. Jim,
      RPM is a new technique. It hasn't received the stamp of approval from the medical community. But I know what I see with my own two eyes as I'm working with "the letter board kid" in my classes.

  2. I haven't heard of RPM, but a friend of mine has a daughter who has fought her condition to get her degree and works with autistic children.
    She has come up with some remarkable techniques to get them to respond and talk when they wouldn't before.
    She reminds me of Temple Grandin to some degree.

    1. Ed,
      Right now, I'm reading Temple Grandin's The Autistic Brain. I highly recommend the book!

      I do not have a degree in Special Education. But I'm not afraid to give "special ed" a try on a limited basis with a few "special" students in my classes.

  3. I doubt that all those with autism can be "reached."

    On the other hand, many may well have a form of Locked-in Syndrome.

    1. Do we know the cause of that terrible condition? It's easy to assume it must come from having been severely traumatized in early childhood, but, as we should know, assumptions are often dead wrong.

  4. The "letter board kid" with whom I'm working is a natural-born poet and a perfectionist. Because of the latter, he puts a lot of pressure upon himself.

    1. Not necessarily a bad thing. That is one of the qualities necessary for the development of true artistic talent. Perfectionism is unhealthy, of course, if it stops talented people from sharing what they produce, but an intensely self-critical approach is necessary for the refinement and development of capabilities. The trick is finding the way to achieve balance..

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. CORRECTED! ;-)

      I wish yoy'd let this remarkable story remain "on top" for a couple of extra days. Affirmative, constructive items are so rare now they must be considered "pearls of great price." That most prefer to see something that gives them an excuse to grouse and grumble is a bad sign for the health and strength of society.

      I do admire the creative and constructive work you do with young people. We need to hear much more about that than constantly pounding on the negatives which I think are so stupidly popular.

      Sorry for the mixup. As you know, my eyes aren't what they used to be.

  6. The composite Power of Mind, Soul, and Spirit is supreme. Infused with Love these purely spiritual things are the true stuff of Life -- the force that governs all at the deepest level. The body is of less-than secondary importance, because in Truth all is infinite Mind and it's infinite manifestation. God is All in All.

    These dear children are NOT limited, as this powerful key to TRUE communication has proven. Hallelujah!

    AOW may not choose to express it this way, but in her great, deeply sincere desire to help bring light to nascent, dormant intellects she is truly doing the Lord's work.

    God bless you, dear friend.

    1. Actually, FT, I do believe that what I'm doing is the Lord's work. I've been working in Christian education since September 1978.

  7. FT,
    Thank you making so many comments to this blog post.

    In the time in which we are living, so few wish to see something as uplifting as the content of this blog post.. **sigh

    Meanwhile, "the letter board kid" in my class is making excellent progress with his academics. He's so thirsty for "normal instruction" -- after all those years of being regarded as unable to learn what most students his age are learning.

    He has miles to go, of course, but his auditory memory is infallible. What he hears, he remembers!

    1. That's a much greater gift than most "normal" people have, AOW.

      Sometimes, being "different" can be a great blessing.

      Thank God he has found you to help awaken the treasure that is his mind. I think it's wonderful.

    2. FT,
      The "letter board kid" with whom I'm working this year has special challenges, and I've been reading up a lot on the topic of autism. The material I'm reading was written by autistics who have found a way to communicate and has given me some ideas how to help this bright young man in my classes.

      My student is so hard on himself! He's a perfectionist. I'm trying to get him to understand that he shouldn't be such a perfectionist. For example, he recently wrote a literary analysis of Beowulf, and I instructed him to write a paper of 1/2 to 1/3 the word-length requirement for the rest of the class. He was concerned that he hadn't written enough -- but time constraints made limiting the word length a requirement for his own well being (sleep requirement, for example). From my reading, I learned that autistics don't like to be locked into "lower level work," so I said this:

      "This year, we're using shorter requirements. Next year, we won't."

      He smiled in approval.

      He has such a thirst for knowledge! And he's an inspiration to all the others in the class. By "others," I mean students and parents. It's wonderful to see.

      I really do hope that I will become his Annie Sullivan. Forget Annie Sullivan's politics! She taught the entire world something very important for the human spirit.


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