Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Shake your sillies out

Once I'd wrapped up the "language" portion of the presentation, it was time to address some of the questions that Bud's classmates had about his sensory issues.

"Okay," I said. "Next question. Some of you asked 'Why does Bud run in circles?' or 'Why does he need to take movement breaks?' This is the way I think about the answer to those questions.

"Remember how we said that our brains control everything our body does? Well, our brains also control our senses. Can anyone tell me what the five senses are?"

The child directly across the room from me, who asked to be identified as "The Amazing Platypus" if I wrote about him on the blog, raised his hand and I called on him.

"Okay," he said, "there's hearing, and seeing, and feeling.... and, um... tasting, and.... wait, how many was that?"

"That was four," Ms. Walker answered.

"And, um," continued The Amazing Platypus. "Wait, which ones did I say?"

"You missed smell," his classmates reminded.

"Yeah!" he responded. "And smelling!"

"That's right," I said. "Sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell. Our brains control all of those things, and so sometimes, Bud's hair dryer brain experiences those things a little differently than our toaster brains.

"So, here's a question: Did you ever sit for a long time in the same position, and then when you stood up again your foot felt kind of funny?"

"YES!" came the cries and giggles from around the room.

"It gets tingly," said Nathan, "but it doesn't really hurt."

"Sometimes it does," said Brandon. "Sometimes it feels like a porcupine." The other kids chimed in with their experiences of limbs that had fallen asleep.

"That's right," I said. "It's all pins-and-needles, right? So, what do you do when that happens? Show me what you do when your foot feels all tingly."

The kids started shaking their feet and tapping and stomping on the floor, and I shook, tapped and stomped along with them. "And then," I said, speaking up over the stomping, "what if the tingling gets worse? What if your whole LEG gets tingly?" They shook and stomped faster and harder.

"And THEN," I said, even louder, "what if your whole BODY feels all pins-and-needles?" They laughed as I stood up and shook all over, trying to work out my imaginary pins and needles. "And THEN," I said, still stomping and shaking and wiggling, "what if somebody came along and asked you to do MATH?"

The class erupted in laughter, and I sat back down.

"I think that's how it feels for Bud when he has to sit in the same place for a long time," I said. "So, when that happens, what do you think he needs to do?"

"Take a movement break!" they answered.

"That's right," I said. "He needs to get up and move or run around in circles for a while until his body feels normal again, and then he can sit down and do his work."

Coming up: Question #5 - Why do noises bother Bud?


Maddy said...

Can I franchise you and drag you around other classrooms?

Holly said...

Perfect explanation that can be easily understood by kids. Thanks for the ideas on how to explain this and other questions children might have about autism. I am so impressed with your blog and amazed at the similarities between Bud and my own son. Please keep sharing these stories with us!!

VAB said...

Seriously, this should be available in classrooms everywhere -- and for that matter, in psychology textbooks.

Niksmom said...


Jill said...

Been lurking a long time. YOU SHOULD WRITE A BOOK! I love reading your blog and end up with tears in my eyes almost every time. I have no first hand experience with ASD, but reading your blog and growing so fond of your son through your writing, it has opened my eyes a lot. When I recently saw a boy at the children's museum with large headphones on or saw one acting in a way that didn't seem typical for his age, it opened my eyes to why that might be. I feel like I am so much less ignorant about these issues than before.

Island Mom said...

Been reading these every day. And trying to remember that it's all happening during wacky hair day (perfect for the movie version of the book that i know you will write someday).

The way you were able to articulate this stuff to the kid is inspired -- I will be borrowing your descriptions for sure -- they are so perfect and easy to relate to, and beautifully describe all Bud's behaviors as purposeful. That's something I strive for but don't always achieve, this really helps.

Anonymous said...

Ditto times six. Your presentation needs to be heard by students as well as taxpayers who have not been given the opportunity to hear. Beautiful, can't wait to read further.

Laurie said...

You have a way with words! I'll be fallowing your blog now that I found it!

Teresa said...

I love this so much I have linked to it on my facebook as well as printed out copies of the posts so far to distribute to my son's school district (which he does not attend, rather is on a bus 2 hours each way every day to attend a private autism school). Maybe this will help them to understand him a little better and to understand why I fight so hard for what he needs. Thank you from the bottom of my heart and every other parent of a hair dryer brained child. :)

Stimey said...

Oh. My. God. How did you come up with all of this? You are incredibly insightful. You should really, really try to publish this series and sell it to school districts. Or do trainings for teachers, or something. This gift that you have for making autism understandable is phenomenal and important. Do you mind if, when you're done, if I run links to all of these in my Washington Times Communities autism column? I think this information, presented the way you have done it, is so crucial.

Anonymous said...

I love reading your articles. You definitely have a gift! I'll be sending people your way...

ConnieJ Owens said...

I am in agreement with Maddy who wants to franchise you and drag you around other classrooms, she made me laugh ! You are nothing short of genius, just last week, I told my husband I wish I could explain Dillon to the kids in his classes, it is a little late since he is in 7th grade, but you really need to do something with this idea.......please !

Anonymous said...

Huh? This is really good! Thanks!

- m_