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Monday, March 19, 2012

The Kids


I have gotten to know most of the kids in my student teaching class really well. Jay is the one who follows me around the most. Whenever the students ask me questions, I try to take them seriously and either answer or help them find out with the Internet, a book, or whatever. However, if you have ever met a kid with autism, you know that when they get a topic stuck in their head they will never stop questioning you about it! In Jay's case, he'll ask the same questions over and over again. A few weeks ago his topic of interest was the movie Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs, and he was forever asking questions like, "Why was the sky red?" and "Why did the mayor keep eating and eating?" and "How come it rained food?" 
Now he is fascinated by outer space, especially the Earth's revolution. Every time I turn around, Jay is standing one inch away from me asking, "Is the Earth moving right now? Is it moving slow or fast? How come I can't feel it? Does it ever stop? What does the sun look like from Neptune?" At first I took time out to help him look it up online and we found animations of the Earth rotating around the sun. I also tried to show him, with the globe, how the Earth spins. But since he asks many of the same questions, over and over and over and over and over, I sometimes want to yell, "YOU ALREADY KNOW THE ANSWER!" I think he just wants reassurance that the answer hasn't changed... the Earth is still rotating and revolving, just like it was twenty minutes ago. 
One day someone told him that the sun is going to explode millions of years from now, and Jay talked about this all day. He kept telling me, "Pretty soon our sun will explode." I explained to him that millions of years from now is not "pretty soon," that it is very far in the future. In fact, I told him, by that time we might have a new planet to move to! This fascinated Jay, and he wanted to know what the new planet would look like, and what it would be called. 
I told him I didn't know. "What would you name a new planet?" I asked him.
In complete seriousness, and without missing a beat, he replied, "Jay."

Martin is a kid who cracks me up. He also has autism but is very verbal, and you never know what will pop out of his mouth. The other day he asked me, "Miss Read, do you want to see horrible movies? I want to see horrible movies." (I think he meant horror movies. I told him to ask his mom." Another day, while I was helping him with his reading assignment, he suddenly asked me, "Is Abraham Lincoln going to be okay?" 
"Well, Abraham Lincoln died a long, long time ago," I told him. I think he was remembering our unit on Abraham Lincoln last month, in which we learned that Honest Abe was shot. 
Martin kept asking, "But is he going to be okay?" 
I kept telling him, "He died many years ago."
Finally Martin asked, "Is he in there?" I finally realized he was remembering the statue at the Lincoln Memorial. He thought Abraham Lincoln was inside the statue, frozen, alive and miserable! I tried to explain to him that the statue was just art work, similar to something he might draw. I don't think he completely believed me. 
And then, today, the class was busy making birthday class for Mrs. M, a teacher's aide whose birthday is tomorrow. Towhee wanted to write "Feliz cumpleanos" on his card, which prompted Martin to ask me how to write "Happy Birthday" in French. I told him I'd look it up on the computer and write it down for him. But as soon as I was on the computer, Martin said, "No! No! No! Not French! I want to say 'Happy Birthday' in Polish! No, Greek! No, Albanian! No, Russian-Russian-Russian!"
I looked it up but found that, since Russian involves some different symbols than our alphabet, it would be pretty hard for Martin to write and pronounce. I convinced him to just write it in French, and I wrote the words out for him.
A few minutes later, I checked on Martin's progress. Sure enough, he'd written, "Joyeux anniversaire," across the top of the card. Beneath that, he'd drawn a picture of a large cross, with grass growing underneath it. "What's that?" I asked him. 
"A grave!" he replied happily. 
I tried to explain to him why Mrs. M might not like getting a birthday card with a picture of a grave on it. "A grave is sort of a sad thing, and birthdays are supposed to be happy," I said. Not to mention that she might think he was hinting that she was old! 
Martin agreed to make a new card, but first he wanted to show the other teacher's aides his picture of the grave. He ran up to one aide, holding the card in front of him, and yelled, "The power repels you!" 
Hmm....
Finally he settled down with his new piece of paper, and asked, "Would flowers be okay to draw?"
"Yes, flowers would be wonderful," I told him.
He drew a flower on the new card, followed by a list of Spanish words that include an ├▒. I'm sure Mrs. M will enjoy it!
I'm really enjoying student teaching. There's no such thing as an ordinary day! 

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