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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Perspective-Taking and the Written Word

In the last few days, I've asked Tom to do several "perspective-taking" writing projects. It turns out this is remarkably easy for him - especially given that kids with autism are supposed to have a TERRIBLE time with perspective taking. Hm. Maybe it's easier for him to take the perspective of fictional characters than of real people?

The first project was a little piece describing the experiences of Mike Teavee, a character in Charlie and the Chocolate factory. No prob. Tom immediately plunged himself into Mike's P/V, and wrote in the first person about his adventures. It seemed clear that he could have written a good deal more if he'd narrated rather than physically wrote - but he did squeak out a few paragraphs (we're still working on what a paragraph IS, so he needed some help with that). He also needed some prompting to get out the details (what does Mike like best? etc.).

The second project was a letter to James of James and the Giant Peach, offering James ideas on how to get his aunts to treat him better. With NO prompting, Tom wrote a lovely note explaining that James should get away from those aunts and go to New York City! Again, he had a lot more ideas that could have been included had he been narrating versus writing.

He's a good writer.

Now the question is - do I work on grammar and structure? Detailed story-telling? Perspective-taking in real life? Typing versus handwriting? Do I let him narrate while I type? ALL of the above?!!

Or... do I back off of writing (since he's already pretty good, after all) - and focus extra time on math, social skills, fine and gross motor (his weaknesses)? If only the answers were clear cut!


Anonymous said...

on perspective taking, have you read the book--thinking of you, thinking of me? this is a fantastic book on perspective taking, which is an extremely deep and complex issue. my son (6) is also good at knowing someone's perspective in books, but in real life he does not stop and think about the other person's perspective. rosemary

The Glasers said...

On grammar, I look at consistent errors and do simple grammar lessons. I try to cover what she does not know rather than bore them with a text in which 30% of the material she has mastered.

On structure, do you mean sentence order or outline of topics?

On perspective-taking in real life, I would have simple conversations. For example, you are eating ice cream and ask, "What's your favorite flavor?" Then, you comment on his answer and add, "My favorite is chocolate cookie dough."

Other perspective taking things would be when he hands you something . . . does he realize he has to turn it to your view. I say things like, "Hmmm, I can't see it from this angle." Pamela does quite get this, so I crane my neck to see and then I say, "Oh! Now I see it!"

Pamela does both. I would find out what he enjoys most. Then, if he does not practice the other, I would spend 15 minutes a day practicing that skill.

I record Pamela's narrations and then I type them. That way we can interact while she's talking (I smile with encouragement, nod my head, look puzzled if it is confusing, etc.).

Debi said...

The Glasers said, "I record Pamela's narrations and then I type them. That way we can interact while she's talking (I smile with encouragement, nod my head, look puzzled if it is confusing, etc.)."

What an excellent exchange! This is a great way to reinforce facial expression while doing something they enjoy!!!!

For me and my son, I try to maintain a balance of working on weaknesses and expanding on strengthes. It seems my son needs lots of encouragement and this is my way of helping him get his daily dose! :-)

Anonymous said...

It's nice to know that I'm not the only one overwhelmed with trying to pick and choose amongst ALL of the things my son needs to learn and practice! I just try to remind myself how far he's come and that he's definitely progressing, which is more than he was doing in public school.

All of your ideas & the others' ideas of perspective-taking were excellent. One thing I do is I have a "discussion" with my son before we engage in real-life encounters where perspective-taking is important. For example, before we go to visit his very ill grandfather, I ask him how he thinks "Papa" is feeling. I ask him how he would want others to behave if he were feeling like Papa does.

Lisa Jo Rudy said...

I did try finding the Micheller Winner book, but it costs $80! Kinda pricey for a paperback... not sure what's up with that. I've gotta say that, while I like her work, it often feels like a lot to do - lesson plans, finding kids, etc. And to be honest, the finding kids is really overwhelming for me... not sure why, but I seem to have become very shy and agoraphobic these days, and find it tough to go out and solicit playdates on my kids' behalfs!

Re narration; I love the idea of typing Tom's content as he goes (I can type and talk at the same time) - but wonder whether it's okay to work with him to structure his stories (rather than just listing lots and lots of details).


Anonymous said...

you are right that it would be tough to do all that it is in Winner book. I do find it the best book on pointing out where perspective comes into play so it was good for MY education. we are using a speech therapist who is doing alot of the exercises in that book with our son--so if you happen to have the opportunity to do that, I highly recommend it. Its always amazing to my that my otherwise very bright child does not have this ability intuitively at all. but I like this approach for teaching it and my son really loves it too. rosemary