I remember the day I was told I would have a 6th grader in a wheelchair who
had no use of any part of his body, except his head...which had limited
movement. He was, however, able to manipulate his wheelchair.
When they told me he would be in my room, I was upset... I had never been
around anyone with this much disability and I felt so helpless not knowing
what to do or where to begin. Also, it was when I first started teaching.
Then I decided we'd do what we could to make the best of it. He had an aide
who did the work for him, at first. Then I began to figure things he could
do in art.
It didn't take me long to develop a very warm relationship with him. He
"spoke" with his eyes, which he moved from side to side for "no"...and up
and down for "yes". He had a head wand...so I began taping markers to his
wand...and he would draw by moving his head. We kept turning his paper when
he let us know he was ready.
Then...I decided to tape a watercolor brush to his wand and I gave him his
own tray of watercolors...which he would use up rather quickly because he
loved bright, rich colors. I also used a large pan...like a sheet cake
pan...for the water. He would indicate when he wanted to wash his brush and
we'd move the pan over. He'd wash the brush by swishing...then continue
painting. He loved working with the watercolor...and continued with this
for the rest of the semester.
He loved to wander in and out of my classroom everytime he was in that part
of the building. I grew to love that child...he loved to come to my
classroom, whether it was for art or just say "hi".
These children...you never forget.
>I have an IEP meeting for an incoming 6th grader who
> has no use of his hands at all, as well as being
> otherwise very low functioning. He is also very
> fragile. Most of us fear his safety in the very
> crowded boisterous middle school hallways. I think it
> would be better for him if he stays in his classroom
> all day - the one where they are constructing him a
> custom restroom because the standard handicapped one
> they have will accomodate his needs, and if I would
> arrange with his teacher to send him Behind the Scenes
> videos and other art-appreciation videos that will be
> near his level. I could loan her art prints to
> decorate a space in her room for him, too. He can
> still learn to enjoy looking at art, even if he can't
> use his hands. I just don't see what I can do for him
> while still managing my other classes in my small
> crowded active little classroom.
> Any suggestions?
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