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Re: special needs children


From: Maggie White (mwhiteaz_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Tue Aug 07 2001 - 19:32:11 PDT

> christine kotarsky wrote:
> This coming year I will be teaching a small group of about 6-8 special
> needs children. The 2 assistants and the teacher will be in the room.
> The children range in disabilities and age. some are autistic, downs
> syndrome, and language and speech disabilities.
> Has anyone worked with such children before and if so can you please
> give me some advice as far as what to teach them and what to expect.
> Thanks in advance, Christine

I've had these guys mainstreamed into my HS classes for ten years. It's
very rewarding for everyone--the SpEd students, the regular ed students,
and me--when their teacher makes the effort to place them in the
appropriate class. I was nervous the first time I had them, too. The
self-contained teacher wisely didn't tell me too much about them (unless
it was something like "so-and-so has seizures."), which forced me to
concentrate on what they CAN do, not on what they CAN'T. This strategy
raises everyone's expectations, I think, and has given these students an
opportunity to excel.

I know they're not being mainstreamed, but devise your lessons first and
adapt as you go. Give them plenty of opportunity to explore the media
without "producing" in the beginning. Let them squoosh clay and
manipulate paint. Try searching the archives as
we've discussed this sort of thing in the somewhat distant past.
Melissa Enderle, one of our list members who is now teaching in Mali,
was a wellspring of knowledge and great advice; check out her postings.

I bought the following book at Davis' booth at the NAEA convention a
number of years ago. I found it on their Web site for you to read.
It's been very helpful in understanding the problems and needs of these
students, as well as some strategies to help them. It's not a book of
"lesson plans", however.
                     Exceptional Children, Exceptional Art
                     by David R. Henley
                     Code: 238-X
                     Price: $44.95
                     Bridging the gap between art education and art
therapy, this special
                     needs resource offers strategies for adapting the
art classroom, as well
                     as addressing emotional and behavioral concerns
that may surface in
                     children’s artwork.

I also saw this book on another site, but am not familiar with it.
Sounds good, though:
                     Making Sense of Art: Sensory-Based Art
                     Activities for Children with Autism, Asperger
                     Syndrome, and Pervasive Developmental
                     by Sandra R. Davalos (Editor)

Good luck, and have a great time with them!