Thursday, April 19, 2012

Seven Easy Steps to Teach a Child with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

What Mak taught me to teach persons with learning differences new skills.
Give permission to be frustrated. This is actually a pre-step and don't forget at each "new" step to say "Tell me if you get frustrated and we can stop." Remember, when you are guiding a person with brain injury to learn something new - respecting the personhood it very important! Keep instruction statements and steps to complete less than 12 words! If learning is not taking place break the task down into smaller steps.

  1. REVIEW - CHECK IT OUT!  We review the options of how to teach so we have a backup plan. We make the initial calls, visit the site and discover the details. This helps avoid failure in the first teaching/learning session. 
  2. WATCH "Watch me do this." We tell Liz what she is going to learn and take her through the process to accomplish the task. In this first step she is the observant participant with us – we do not require learning. She asks questions and we answer as simply as we can. We may show, guide, read, point out, role model, dramatize, and laugh alot! We make this fun. We also may share some of the funny things that happened to us when we tried this the first time.
  3. WATCH – EXPERIENCE "Watch me and you can help." We repeat the experience with her contributing pieces of the learned task. We involve her in the task in fun ways. We allow her to help us in the final pieces - by allowing a person to complete the final step the person is successful in the process. 
  4. EXPERIENCE – WATCH "This time you can try it." We repeat the experience with her contributing more pieces of the learned task and we begin to step away. We work together and this step may need to be repeated a number of time until person is secure and has the ah ha!
  5. EXPERIENCE – SHOW  "Wow, you can do it! Show me how." She tells me what to do and I laugh and become a partner in “her” learning.
  6. SHOW – LET GO  "You can do it!. I don't think you will need me much." She shows me as I watch and then let go. This is her time to do it herself without help but encouragement. Provide time to think and move to the next step.
  7. I CAN DO IT!  She skillfully and a bit fearfully completes the process, while I sit in a parking lot waiting or stay close to the phone to guide. ‘I Can’, can take a while and when learning is mastered we move on to the Next Step in our adult journey.
  8. ”I DID IT!” At this point you may need to return to teaching and support if the person has a day that is very stressful, they are hungry, sick, cold, hot, tired, on new medication. If this learning experience needs to be repeated I recommend you go back to Step 3 and have a good time together. "Let's work together today, I like working with you."
Remember, it takes 8 healthy inputs to receive 1 healthy OUTPUT – most often we miss important steps in the teaching and learning becomes fraught with missing pieces and filled with frustration.

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