So...I walk into the room and speak- text my initial observations: colored paper footsteps (8 pairs) leading to the door, eight small elementary desks with Velcroed individual student pictures, segregated labeled work areas: Math, ELA, 3-D Sorting, Vocational, Social, and 1:1 Speech.
There is an individual teacher desk in the far left corner and by the position of the chair, teacher has a full room view. Nice.
There is a line of shelves as you enter the room, immediately to the right. There are eight folders on the shelves with data worksheets.
In the center of the room there is a carpet with eight chairs about six feet apart from one another, in two lines facing a Smart Board. To the right of the Smart Board screen there are eight spread out individual picture schedules with student's names and photos.
The room is brightly decorated with WELCOME BACK signs, and pictures of kids coming off yellow school busses being greeted and hugged by smiling staff...apparently not yet updated as per pandemic regulations.
The room reflects D O. E. Best Practice standards for an Autism Clsssroom.
There are some additions though: pictures of students wearing masks, hand washing protocols at the large sink...not just the usual task analysis pictures, but the Mandatory State Regs outlined in Bold Type as well titled: "Wash Hands Every 15 Minutes!"
There are also Social Distance reminders:
There is a posted social distancing protocol with pictures of kids separated by two connected yardsticks to give a visual example of "Distancing."
And sayings such as:
"You can greet, no closer than 6 feet."
Handshake or hug, end up with a bug.
There is one big visual that makes the biggest impression on my mind. It is a poster of students sitting in a wide circle playing Individually with toys, with the caption:
Sharing Is NOT Caring!
And so...here it is: a room that is a microcosm of a world in a pandemic; a room that is specifically set up to maximize learning for students with social, communication, and behavioral challenges. It is an environment that has taken direct hits to the purposes for which it was constructed. Social distancing decreases social interaction, cooperative play skills are decreased by less interactive more group, sharing lessons. Wearing masks inhibit the ability for students to read visual facial cues, and interpret feelings, making it more difficult to empathize. The question of getting vaccines has separated us even nore.
We are living in challenging times. Our humanity is being tested. It will take a shift in thinking and new ways of interacting to make it through. Our ability to empathize in such extreme circumstances tests our patience and our resolve to get along.
Welcome to The New Rooms And when you walk into them. in any environment, look around and see. . See what we have become and ...figure out...somehow.. how we will make it through...
Welcome back, kiddos with autism. Welcome back with all your social, communication and behavior challenges.
2021-2022 is going to be an interesting year...
All rights belong to its author. It was published on e-Stories.org by demand of Joseph Trance.
Published on e-Stories.org on 08/22/2021.
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