Wednesday, February 01, 2006

this is an audio post - click to play

Mentoring and Autism

As I looked over the notes from the class I missed it would seem the main topic had to do with mentoring kids on the spectrum. I was fortunate enough to have had an opportunity to be a job coach for some kids on the spectrum while I was in grad school. The high school that I was TA at had it's own restaurant where students would work to explore that as a vocation. I remember being assigned to one particular student that was having great difficulty learning the different roles at the restaurant. I remembering asking the teacher AKA head cook/manger about her training thus far and he replied we told her what to do and how to do it. After a couple of days I realized that they had missed a key component they never actually showed her the task with a demonstration and some follow through. Since, I would perform the task first she was able to have the must needed visual piece and was able to acquire new skills and responsibilities.

Having Dyslexia myself I understand the need for visual input. I also remember my first job as a bus boy at an Italian restaurant when I was 14. It was the first time anyone had called me hard working. I had struggled in school for so long because my dyslexia had gone undiagnosed so I was often written off for lack of effort. I still spend a lot of time helping out others at work to compensate for my short comings. I also feel that people with dyslexia would make good mentors for people on the spectrum. Often my own son will miss interpret something said and I will be able to figure out his interpretation because I can also visualize what was said.