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The other children in a classroom, if included gently in Johnie's plans,
will eventually help him and learn some good "human" skills as well.
More "able" students might be able to follow your lesson, or an adaptation
of it; for instance, I had a student who was both learning disabled and
emotionally disturbed. He was unable to follow multi-stepped instructions,
and acted out if he got frustrated or embarassed. We worked it out so that
I would get my class going like usual, then, as I was cruising the aisles
checking up on the students' progress, I'd give him each step as he was
ready for it. He would never ask for help, so I had to be aware of his
progress all the time, but if I taught him this way, he was able to learn.
He eventually became quite accomplished with a jigsaw in a sculpture lesson
we did, and the kids treated him like everyone else. I'll be seeing him
again next year; Art is the only "mainstreamed" class he attends. Check out
the lesson plan on Ken Rohrer's Home Page, under High School Art. That's
the one we (this special student and I) did together:
Talk to the regular classroom teachers who work with your students. Without
them, you'll have to guess what his needs are, and that could be difficult
(or detrimental to the child).
With a physically challenged child, you may have to adapt materials; a
roll-on deodorant bottle, or one of those stamper bottles with the sponge on
the end, filled with paint are great paintbrushes for someone with muscular
or movement problems. There are lots of books about these adaptations. Be
creative. If the kid is physically challenged but of normal intelligence,
talk to him about what he is comfortable doing, but do it without making him
feel singled out. I had a little boy with a muscular degenerative problem
who was great that way. He'd say, "Well, no, I can't handle the scissors,
but if you put the glue down for me, I can pat the cut pieces into place."
Like that. By the way, he was in a wheel chair, and loved to dance. It was
Often these kids are the best ones, because you can really make a difference
in their lives. Be prepared to celebrate small victories instead of large
ones, but understand that they're large to them.