representation

More reader picture book suggestions

moretufflesspuff said:  Miss Bindergarten has featured students with disabilities. Schools first Day of School by Adam Rex has children with disabilities (and the school itself deals with the bullies and being shy).

mrskaaay said:  Daniel Tiger is geared toward the really young, but Chrissy uses braces to walk. The books are based on episodes of the show but leave out bits so you’ll likely see Chrissy, not Chrissy The Handicapped.

goodnightmoonvale said:  There is a Curious George book about how he goes to the park to play with his friend who is in a wheelchair and she’s really good at basketball. It’s called “curious George joins the team”

Picture book recommendation

Ettina Kitten said:

I haven’t read it, but I’ve heard that So Don’t! & See What Happens by Sarah Leal is a picture book with a main character in a wheelchair who uses AAC and the plot isn’t about her disability.

realsocialskills said:

Thank you! It looks like it might be hard to get ahold of a copy, but it’s good to know it exists. 

Does anyone else know of books like that?

We are people

When I see a picture of someone who looks like me, it’s usually illustrating a tragic or demeaning story.

Sometimes it’s a picture of a child, illustrating a story about how difficult life is for parents of autistic children. Or a story about how the child’s favorite thing got turned into therapy. With depressing bullying statistics.

Sometimes it’s a picture of an adult, illustrating a story about how difficult life is for parents of autistic children once their kids reach adulthood. Or a bleak story about unemployment statistics. Sometimes it’s a story about a special business or sheltered workshop for autistics that the parent is proud to say their child is involved with. With depressing unemployment statistics.

Sometimes it’s a story about how an autistic person has a special talent. Maybe they’re an artist. The story is always about how mysterious and beautifully tragic it is that autism sometimes gives people special abilities along with significant impairments. The story will not take them seriously as an artist. It will be a human interest story about autism, and no art experts will be quoted — but the headline will probably say “autism does not define him.”

This gets corrosive. It can make the world seem bleak and hopeless. It can be hard to remember that this isn’t an accurate way to describe us. That we are, in fact, more than that.

In real life, we’re people, and we do things. We do things besides be miserable or be inspiring. We have thoughts and attributes that are not convenient to the tragic plots of newspaper articles. We’re people. We do real things. And we matter.

I am not a tragic story; I am not an illustration. I am a real person. And so are you.

Supporting kids who are below grade level


aura218
 said:

I’m a reading tutor for kids who are below grade level. This is a Title 1 school, which means poverty and the parents don’t speak English. The kids in my program do. I have a lot of discipline problems, ie, kids refuse to come in from recess to come to the program, kids being disruptive in group sessions. We don’t get the kids who are DIAGNOSED severely disabled. They’re all in grades 2-5. 

So, what should I  be doing to get kids who don’t want to come in from recess to come in? So far, a sticker/star reward system is helping the group sessions, but some kids still call out, interrupt me and other kids, and won’t write answers unless I tell them what to write. 

Any suggestions?

realsocialskills said:

Someone I know who does remedial reading has had success with some of these things:

Using computer or iPad reading games

  • Some kids who associate books with humiliation and failure don’t have the same association with computer-based things
  • But if you’re going to do this, make sure the games you pick are actually fun
  • It doesn’t work if it’s exactly like the thing that’s miserable for them off the computer
  • Particularly if it’s just a simulated standardized test

Having kids read plays together

  • This can work well as a group activity,
  • Particularly since all the kids are involved even when it’s not their turn to read
  • Some kids who don’t like taking turns reading stuff *do* like taking turns reading parts in a play
  • Also, again, it’s something they’re much less likely to associate with failure and humiliation
  • You can get books of kids plays that are designed for various reading levels

Use books with positive representation of kids like them:

  • Far, far too many kids books are about rich white kids
  • If all of your books are about rich white kids, you can end up inadvertently sending the message that you don’t respect your students (especially if you are white, but even if you are not)
  • Or that reading is rich and white
  • Having books that have poor kids, disabled kids, and kids of color can make a big difference
  • Particularly if they are good books
  • Particularly if they are books written by people from the same culture as the kids you teach
  • Immigrant kids come under *tremendous* pressure to assimilate and reject the cultures they came from
  • And it’s worth making an effort to make sure that what you do isn’t part of that

Do what you can to make it a safe space for kids who are struggling:

  • Do not let kids make fun of other kids
  • Do not have competitions between kids
  • Do not laugh at mistakes, even if they’re funny
  • (But do let kids laugh at *your* mistakes, even if they’re not funny)
  • Praise people for trying, not just succeeding
  • Because being willing to try over and over until you do something successfully is important
  • And for kids who have been humiliated for failing, it can be really important that you explicitly respect their efforts

Sometimes it helps to modify things in a way that work with rather than against kids’ behavior:

  • If kids are calling out, make a lesson where that’s *supposed* to happen
  • Have some time where you tell kids what to write and that’s ok
  • (And where if kids decide to not write what you tell them and to write something else, that’s also ok)
  • I can’t think of more examples offhand, but I know that this is something that people do successfully
  • Remember that the point is getting kids to learn, not getting them to obey you
  • (You do have to control the classroom to an extent - but it’s worth avoiding avoidable power struggles, and modifying your approach when kids refuse to cooperate with your initial plan isn’t a failure )

But also, are kids being pulled out of recess in order to go to extra lessons? That strikes me as inherently likely to end poorly. If that’s what’s happening, is there any way you can pull the kids out of something else instead?