“What day is it?”
“It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.
“My favorite day,” said Pooh.
Yesterday really was a “favourite” day.
In working with students with autism, we often need to build a student’s repertoire of language by scaffolding skills. We use visual symbols and, if the student is verbal, teach them the corresponding words as we show them what the symbols and words mean. For instance, when we show them the visual for “dry hands”, we do the activity. Sometimes, we have multiple steps for activities (taking off winter clothes can involve a ridiculous amount of symbols/words!). The process is long, but over time, it is hoped that the student may themselves either point to the visual symbol to request an item/activity, or they may use the words alone.
I have been working with a particular student for 4 months on requesting preferred activities, such as “go upstairs” (which really means go upstairs for a walk), or “go sensory room” or “snack”. For the past two weeks, this student has been under the weather, but still coming to school and consequently often exhibiting challenging behaviours. Yesterday, not only was the student back to their typical happy demeanor, but the student also made a request to do something we had never done and used words in a series that had never been modeled together. This is such a significant step.
It literally was the most exciting thing to happen in a very long time.
So when asked “rock baby, sensory room” (meaning take the toy baby to the sensory room and rock it in the swing), I took my student’s hand and rushed to the sensory room and helped make sure that request was fulfilled.
And while “rock baby, sensory room” was happening, I sat in another rocking chair in the sensory room and let some of the challenges of the last two weeks melt away.
Sometimes, like in the photo above, it’s important to look at the little things that work together to make things beautiful.