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For a while now, I wondered what I could add to Classroom2.0's discussions. What could I do is such a powerful community? Until now, I've stuck to writing and engaging on my own blog
I was replying to a post on Will Richardson's blog about 'The School of the Future', and for some reason, talked about the issues I face, as a father of a 7 year old with Aspergers Syndrome. I continually argue that he is not so much an Aspi kid, as a kid with Aspergers. He's not so much 'special needs', as he is a kid who needs to explore 'special interests' in his learning.
Quite simply, this in not happening in his classroom and it's not like I don't get stuck into the schools as often as I can when he comes home frustrated and anxious because school is designed for 'neuro-normals'. Here is a simple example. He has 3 hours a week funded for his special interests (sorry: needs). The teacher allocates this time to 'reading groups'. Apparently, they believe that this builds social skills. It may do for a week or so, but then the 'reading' group is formed, and nothing further is learned to help him understand social connections, collaboration and empathy - the very things he needs.
He can read, in fact he's well above average. What the school is doing of course is pooling time and trying to get all kids with funding to so some median activity. The teacher lacks any ability to differentiate his needs - because she doesn't care enough to make the effort. Because Aspi kids are generally of high IQ and have advanced language skills - they are often labeled as under-achievers in school. It gets worse as they get older. Not the condition (which is quite amazing at time) - the effort that teacher's put into their needs. They don't display their disability in the way some with more severe autism to, nor do they have a wheel chair. They are never the less doing the best they can, dealing with classroom social structures and methods that frustrate, confuse and create anxiety.
The lash out, but soon learn that lashing out meets with 'consequences' - detention, segregation etc., - which simply serve to further dis-connect them from the world around them. No wonder they aften appear distracted - they learn that if they don't understand the situation or subtle meaning in statements people make - then they'd best avoid having any engagement with those saying it.
What I would like to do here, in Classroom2.0 - is to develop a distributed network of parents/teachers who go through exactly the same crap we do. To create ideas and solutions that will provide PD for these teachers.
My idea is quite simple. TO DEVELOP A WIKI OF RESOURCES THAT I CAN GIVE TO THESE PEOPLE SO THAT EVEN IF THEY ARE TIME POOR OR LAGGARDS, THEY CAN SIMPLY DIP INTO AND USE TO MAKE THE LIVES OF ASPI KIDS BETTER. I can't be there all the time - but I do want to make sure that I can provide scaffolds and ideas that they can use. I am aiming here for 1/2 hours week's worth of QUALITY TIME for Aspi kids. Immediate lessons and learning object that they can use in K12 instead of our kids having to get stuffed about and marginalized.
No tea and sympathy, no 'gently' - this is practical - in your face - go and use it stuff.
I'm calling it Aspi2.0
- and I'd like to get other people with an interest to work with me on it. (please).