I have been thinking about how I learn the best and how a teacher could best engage me in that process. Maybe this idea would only work for me and not other kids with autism, I’m not sure. But for me, this is how I would structure the day.
First thing in the morning, I need some exercise time to get my brain functioning. This doesn’t need to be long, maybe fifteen minutes of stretching or movement would do it. Then, my first class would be something challenging. My brain is most fresh in the morning and I’m most likely going to absorb more. For me, this class would be math or science since those are the subjects that I struggle the most with. I don’t know how to teach me math. The concept is foreign to my brain. I know that many autistics are really good at math, but not me. I think that watching videos is going to be the best for me. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to regurgitate a solution to a math problem but at least I could understand the concept and maybe something would sink in. Just repeating the same thing that I’m stuck on for months and years isn’t very useful though. That is how my math education has been up until now. And not surprisingly, I dread math time. After math, I need something easy that I enjoy. This is the time to read a book to us. But, something age-level and interesting. My parents read to us every night before bed. We have read all kinds of books—everything from Dickens to Steinbeck, Twain to Hemingway—plus fun books like Harry Potter. Reading time is my favorite part of the day. I love hearing about different places and times.
After reading, it would be a good time for a break with some down-time. Down-time recharges my battery. I usually like to listen to some music and be by myself for a little bit. Fifteen minutes is enough. Then, it is time to work on communication. We would each need an aide or a peer to work with us. I would want to try having written conversations with that person using the iPad. The more consistent that time is and the more I get comfortable with my helper, the better I’m going to do with them. I need a timer on to tell me how long I need to focus. I can do forty-five minutes to an hour with my dad but had to work up to that. I would want to start with fifteen minutes with someone new. After each interval, I need a break. I could then do another interval. I would dedicate one hour to this in the morning half of the day.
Then it’s time for lunch. After lunch, I would do another session of a hard subject. If I did math in the morning, then I would want to do science in the afternoon. Again, I think videos would work the best for me. I would eventually be able to communicate comprehension questions once I got better typing with someone at school. Until then, just assume I’m learning something. Then, it’s physical education time. Running on the track is my preference but I’m good with anything that gets my heart rate up. I would do this for an hour. The last hour of the day would be for history or humanities of some sort. Reading or watching a video would be best. I know it is a lot of videos but that is a good way for me to learn. If a teacher had enough knowledge on the subject, listening to them lecture would also work. I just like the quality of a produced video on a subject. It is usually more interesting. Plus, it frees up the teacher to work on communication. Anyway, that is my ideal school day.