With autistic children you can't take anything for granted. Typical children, just by going through their ordinary days, can just "pick up" certain language skills. Not so for these kids. Every nuance of language skills has to be highlighted and taught directly. This week it was verb tenses. It wouldn't matter how many times I had him do worksheets and lessons on the subject, it was still back to square one each time we went over it. Here he is almost seventeen with less of a grasp on the changes in language that goes with tenses than a preschooler. Meeting children where they are is so important for typical kids, but it is even more important with special needs kids. I had to do something that would engage his interest. It had to be simple and yet effectively highlight future, present and past tenses.
Here is an activity we did this week involving tenses. On Thursday I wrote out a simple recipe so that it was all people and action.
Tomorrow Mom and Alex will make cookies. Alex will measure 2 cups of sugar into a pot. Alex will add 1/4 cup of cocoa powder to the pot...
through the whole recipe. He read it. I went over the future tense verbs.
|"...Alex will add 1 stick of margarine to the pot..."|
-from the future tense script
On Friday, I wrote out the entire recipe again in the same format, but this time changing the verbs to present tense. He read it. I went over the verb tenses. We compared it to yesterday's version. We began making the recipe while going over the script, line by line. He had to pick out the right measuring cup and the right ingredient and do what the recipe said. I only helped him when he needed it.
|"...Mom takes the mixture off the stove and Alex adds 1/2 cup of peanut butter to the pot..."|
-from the present tense script
On Saturday I will write one last script -the whole recipe again, with past tense verbs. We will look at this script and compare it to the other scripts. We will talk about what we did yesterday.
We will look at the verbs again.
|"...Alex dropped spoonfuls of the mixture on a tray."|
-from the past tense script
Will he learn verb tenses by doing this? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Perhaps if we do it again and again with different things we do together and I highlight each time the differences in the scripts, he will begin to understand.
He has taught me as well. He has taught me not to take even the simplest of learning for granted.
Rejoice in each little bit of progress your students make.