Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Comfort of Cattails

Pamela is clearly more receptive to people in her watercolor class. She is looking forward to sharing cake and ice cream to celebrate her 21st birthday next Tuesday. She even sang a little snippet of the Beatles' "Today Is Your Birthday" song.

The class did two things: finished the spring landscape from two weeks ago and started a Barbados beach landscape. After a slow start in mixing colors, Pamela managed to keep up and even stay ahead of her teacher because she wanted to get to the fun part: painting! She breezed her way through drawing the beach scene after having had years of practices imitating Steve Burns drawing in his handy-dandy notebook.

The biggest trend I saw was how well she regulated her emotions. Steve called unexpectedly (I never get cell phone calls), and Pamela asked where he was. Several tubes of paint had crusted-on caps, so she asked for help. The spray bottle, which had a mind of its own, spewed its cap into the paint, and she took it well. I sprayed water on the table, and Pamela grabbed a paper towel and cleaned it up. Instead of painting the second picture with the paper set to "landscape" her teacher had them position their paper to "portrait" and Pamela didn't even blink.

The first video shows Pamela finishing her spring landscape, which turned out gorgeous. The highlight for me was how well Pamela regulated herself during an unexpected change of mind by her teacher. Carrie knows how to scaffold the students and models her thought processes beautifully. She was going to shift to painting red flowers and had already gotten them started on mixing the paints. She revised her strategy and guided the class back to green leaves. Suddenly, she realized that Pamela was autistic (it is easy to forget because Pamela is doing so well). Carrie looked at me half-apologetically, knowing what unexpected transitions can do since she also parents a child in the spectrum.

Pamela did not catch onto the change right away and happily mixed her red. Once she caught wind of the shift, she mildly fussed. I guided her more directly since a pending meltdown and thinking clearly are mutually exclusive. I told her she could paint the leaves or wait. She felt like arguing and even said, "Argue." Suddenly, she started painting brown blobs that looked like cattails. I wonder if she recalled the cattail study we did last summer and consoled herself by painting them instead!

Pamela's new painting is looking gorgeous too. She loves bold colors which make her pictures pop. My favorite moments of this video was when Pamela wanted to know the island's name (and we plan to look up Barbados in her beloved atlas). I also enjoyed watching Pamela solve a problem. She accidentally colored her white foam the color of sand and then tried blotting it. Since it did not sop up enough water and this was nearing the end of the hour, I quickly collaborated with her and I drew a new line in the sand.


Jennie said...

Thanks, Tammy!! Great job, Pamela! Love your paintings!

Brandy said...

SO I found your wonderful blog looking for wedsites about autism today. My three year old was just diagnosed. Right now my son's doctors have him in two days of special preschool and two days of speech and occupational therapy and want to add more kinds of therapy to be done all in one week every week. To be honest I feel a bit overwhelmed and feel like my son is too. He likes the pre-school and so do I, but the rest just seems like too much for everyone. When you decided to home school, did you continue any outside therapy, or just do it all yourself? I feel like a more relaxing at home atmosphere would best help my son learn and grow, but I am getting alot of pressure to keep him in the programs he is in and being told he will do best with outside intervention. I am new to the autism world and a little frazzled still as to the best thing for my son. Any advice would be amazing!!:) My eamil is

Thanks Brandy

Such an amazing painting, Pamela. My last water color attempt was just aweful, keep up the awesome talent!!

The Glasers said...

Brandy! Welcome to the wonderful world of autism! I know you must feel overwhelmed right now at the start of your journey. We all did!

Pamela was six years old when we decided to homeschooling. At that point, she was in special education, receiving adaptive physical education and group speech therapy. For us, there was not much to give up because services were not as plentiful as they are today.

I think a slow, relaxed atmosphere, mindful of opportunities for teaching dynamic thinking, is the ideal for the home. It is hard for professionals to understand homeschooling and give you realistic information. It is not an easy decision to make and the best place to find out what it is like to talk to others homeschooling children in the spectrum. There are lots of email list for homeschooling kids in the spectrum and I put them on my autism webpage.

The Glasers said...

Thanks Jennie!!!!

Bonnie said...

gorgeous paintings!

Are you going to the conference?
We have room in our apt. and would love to have you too..........Jennette and myself!soccer

The Glasers said...

Bonnie, I will be there, but I will have David and maybe Pamela there too. She wants to go this year! Yikes! Fortunately, between having a few close friends now and wonderful fellowship at church, I can afford to be less selfish with my kids about the conference.