Monday, January 05, 2009

The Rest of the Story

I talked to my consultant about an issue that we would like to address, and I thought it might be a separate objective from the "I don't know" work we have been doing. Basically, Pamela half-hears a conversation on the phone or from another room and then yells loudly "You're not sick!" if she hears the word "cold." It does not matter whether the person said, "I feel cold" or "the weather is cold" or "Billy Bob got over his cold." She has certain trigger words and, when she hears them, she overreacts in a high-pitched mini-rant. After my consultant gathered together more details, she helped me see that this issue fits in perfectly with our "I don't know" work. Only, I didn't know it! LOL!

Up until now, we were working on helping Pamela feel comfortable with times in which she feels uncertain. Now, we are taking it to another level: sometimes, we only hear part of a story and, instead of overreacting, we can choose a different option: read the faces of other people to see if they are calm, reflect on past experiences, wait and listen for more information, wait and ask a question, etc. If she learns to do this, she might recognize that hearing the word "cold" is only part of the story and she might pause and reflect before going into red alert.

When I begin thinking about how to teach this, I realized it is not much different from the "whole-part" thinking we do for addition and subtraction word problems in our math curriculum, Making Math Meaningful. The key is to find neutral situations that are not triggers for red alert and to slow down the moment around which we discuss whole-part thinking. The video of our shopping trip will make this much clearer. Pamela knew what was on her list and how much money she had. She did not know what was on my shopping list nor how much money I planned to spend.

A couple of things on the video caught my attention. Pamela has a hard time focusing on my nonverbals in an overstimulating environment like Walmart! She and I normally walk rapidly through the store, but she slowed down very nicely behind a woman taking her sweet time. Pamela referenced me when she was not quite sure of what to do during checkout. (And, don't you love how well she does at checkout!)


MasterpieceMom said...

great job revisiting the 'unknown' thruout the experience.

I also thought it was cute how she drifted off onto the ebay thing. Pooh interrupts to discuss history items. LOL

poohder said...

I can tell you worked very hard to frame and scaffold this for Pamela's success... great job Tammy. I have to ask, how many stares do you get running around Walmart with a video camera? LOL!!

Prince Andrew and the Queen Mum said...

i just linked this on my learn2hear group as this weeks lesson is grocery! and i love this entry! it is an excellent example of how to highlight and work on uncertainty in a practical way. plus work in math to boot! you go girl! and i love that i've looked at this blog for several years and see SUCH progress

Prince Andrew and the Queen Mum said...

sorry for all the comments... i should wait till i'm done watching...but i LOVE that she has such joy in helping at the self check. and the smile on her face as she wait expectantly to see what is the other part..

walking said...

I think dealing with unknown and uncertainty is going to help her manage anxiety. Her anxiety is mild, but I think it leads to scripting and overreaction. Pamela does drift off and script, BUT not as much as she once did!

My camera is beat up and taped, so it definitely looks well-used! And, I usually hold it chest level to look less obvious . . .

Queen Mum,
We did cover a lot of bases with this activity. Also, writing because she originally wrote her own list!!!