A common misconception is that students with Autism don’t have imagination.
Whoever first made that statement, clearly didn’t have students like mine! My students have richer imaginations than anyone I know; they can invent new words, write amazing stories and come up with a million and one questions that no one else would ever even contemplate wondering about!
I have learnt so much over the years from my students, and my life has been infinitely richer for those conversations.
I have debated the pros and cons of Disney’s Beast versus The Beast from X-Men, conversed with Dr Brown Bear as I cured my blutack made spotty students (and support staff), discussed the necessary elements to turn an ordinary bedroom into an Australian Jungle and worked with princesses. I’ve been a blue cat and I’ve been an angry wolf.
No day is ever the same and that is why my job is the best job in the world.
Alongside the incredible imaginations of my students, comes a desire to discuss their special interests and link those interests to whatever we are learning. At this they are incredibly skilled, and I’m often both simultaneously impressed and perturbed by their ability to railroad my lessons with a fantastic (if only tenuously linked to my lesson plan) question!
I’ve learnt, however, over time that I can utilise these questions to my advantage, rather than feel frustrated by them….
Instead of worrything that the questions are detracting from my lessons, I ensure they enhance it.
I tell my students that they came up with such an incredible question, that I need time to think of an answer that is just as incredible. And that is exactly what I do! The students begin their work, I think of my answers and then, when I can see a student is starting to find things a bit tricky I have the perfect pick me up in a well thought out (if often somewhat bizarre) answer to the very imaginative question I have previously been asked.
So how can those of you who work in mainstream, make this strategy work for you?
Why not give those students who can be somewhat tangential in your lessons a pack of post it notes (you should know me well enough by now to know that, any excuse and my post it notes appear), ask them to write down any questions that come into their head that aren’t directly related to the lesson.
Then when students are settled and working go round the class and check out the post-its.
Either discuss individually, or pick your favourite each lesson and give a whole class answer (just make sure students know in advance which method you’re using so they’re not disappointed if you don’t choose them).
Use imagination to your advantage, you’ll be surprised at what you discover!
Why not join our lovely, friendly Facebook Group full of parents and teachers working together to share strategies to help our children.
If you do want to learn more you might find our autism section a useful place to start. It’s full of different strategies to try out.
Or if you’re looking for more personal support, why not check out our Consultancy Services.
As always if you have any questions at all please don’t hesitate to get in touch, I’m more than happy to help.
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