Thursday, January 5, 2012

Asperger Kids and Personal Journals in Class

As I was cleaning out a bookcase, filled with old notebooks, coloring books and workbooks, I came across some old notebooks that Ethan had used as journals. Looking through them, I remembered that this was a strategy recommended to us by an Occupational Therapist for school. 

Ethan tended to just talk aloud in class...sometimes directed at the teacher, sometimes complaining about other kids, and sometimes just to himself.  Our OT suggested by having a notebook on his desk from the moment the school day started until it ended, that he would be able to transfer his need to express himself from talking aloud to just writing it down...then he could discuss his perceived issues with the teacher at the right time.

After looking through 3 full notebooks, I recall this being a forgotten strategy that was successful (for him).  He had written comments about other people...(which were previously shouted in anger or frustration).  He also had written new "rules"...from math, to writing, or class behavior...he had written everything down. 

Upon reviewing his journals (and remembering how well this strategy worked), I emailed his teacher, speech therapist and math tutor, immediately.  One of the advantages of Ethan keeping a daily journal is that it is helpful for us, as parents and teachers, to keep up with what issues he is having, as well as his understanding of the rules introduced in class (again, both educational and social/behavioral) .  Yes, we go over homework, but there are many times that he'll complain he doesn't know how to do math problems, for instance. With the daily journal, we can go back to see how he was taught particular lessons..then hopefully he can/will remember without the usual anxiety.

Ethan can take his journal from class to tutoring, write down things learned.  Upon returning to class, his teacher knows what was covered during that session.  We have found that we cannot over-communicate his progress (or lack of progress, occasionally), On the flip-side, this year (4th grade), we started out (probably) assuming too much, and realized 10-weeks into the year, that he was in the wrong class (AP Math)...Lesson learned...the better we are all able to communicate, the better we can help him in the school setting!

And the list goes on and on...by writing everything down, he is essentially taking notes. We have all taking notes before and know it's pretty hard to zone out if you're trying to listen for what is important enough to write down. Also, since he has some trouble with math, writing all the math rules down (as in not using worksheets or the book) reinforces what he is learning. 

Having a child with Asperger's is sometimes like making your way through a maze in a fog. Once one school year starts, then ends, then out for summer, then back to school, it's sometimes hard to remember what strategies worked and what didn't.  Since most of us have just started back to school after Winter Break, it could be a good time to introduce this method to your child's teachers.  Of course, every child on the spectrum is different and they each respond to things in their own way. But this is one strategy I give an A and I hope that it might help someone else.

If you try this and it works for your child, I'd love to hear from you! :-)

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