This could be one of the best experiences of your career. It's like an
honor to be trusted with these kinds of kids in your classroom. He
needs to get OUT of his special classroom to be exposed to a wider
world. Sorry, but videos and posters in a corner don't cut it. He
needs the active stimulation of seeing and hearing and communicating
with "normal" students, as they need the exposure to him. The chance to
work with art supplies would be icing on the cake for him. Trust me,
you are in a position to make a REAL difference in this kid's life.
These kids tend to be the hardest working and most interested students
you'll ever have.
Surely there are some kind, reliable students who can at least take
turns assisting him. I had a severely CP student once with very limited
hand use, but she could move her arms in broad motions. She had to
wedge her own clay, operate the slab roller, and hold still while her
partner used her balled-up hand as a slab mold. I made a tool for her
out of spongey foam so she could clench it in her hand; with a plastic
needle inserted in the foam, she could push the needle through burlap
and embroider a pillow case. The foam idea can be extended to hold a
brush or fat marker as well. (Her partner often had to pry open her
fingers a bit so she could hold the foam; she didn't mind this at all).
If your student has no arm motion either, you can rig something up so he
can use his head to manipulate a brush or marker. A secure helmet or
hat on his head would work. If he can, he should select the colors he
wants and make his own marks, not have someone guide him too much.
That is often a problem with an aide, who tends to do too much for the
student. Try to give him close-to-authentic tools and materials, and
let him make as many choices as possible. His aide or partner would
just make things more accessible for him.
I've recommended many times the Davis publication, Exceptional Children,
Exceptional Art, by David Henley. It does not provide lessons or
specific strategies for working with handicapped students, but describes
their physical, emotional, and intellectual capabilities (NOT their
limitations) and how to enhance the art experience for them so they can
truly express themselves.
Betty B wrote:
>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.