Thursday, October 24, 2013

More Art

Last January I got this letter from Dan's teacher:

"...This morning he came in and checked his schedule. Today was PE. He took the picture off. I told him that he had PE today so we were going to leave it on. 
He looked at me and said, 'No.'
 I showed him my teacher schedule that said PE for his class. 
He said, 'No PE' again and tried to take it off.
 I told him I was sorry, but it is what is on our schedule for today. 
He got his iPad, and told me "No" again.
I asked him what he would rather have instead, and he verbally said, 'Art.' 
I talked with Dan about being disappointed that today was not art. I made him a specialist calendar for January and February. 
It seemed to appease him and he did well in PE.

Later in the day we worked on writing. 
Every presidential inauguration year, students can write to the president and the letters will be read to congress. 
I asked Dan what he wanted to write about. 
And Dan said, 'More art.' "

---From the mouths of babes!!!

This Happened Today.

Excerpt from Wednesday's Journal Entry from Dan's teacher:
...Dan became frustrated in Art today. They were doing a lot of fine motor. I've included his problem solving form, and apology letter...

The problem solving form indicated that the project on "Pentangles" was hard, and he was frustrated, pushed a stool over, hit his assistant and the art teacher, and was generally mad that it was so difficult.
His letter basically said: "Dear Mrs. H. (and Ms. J.) I'm sorry I hit you, it's not okay to hit. I will have nice hands in art class. Love, Dan."

My Reply: (edited) 
"...It's hard when things are frustrating but it's not ok to hit. We talked about it...Can we adapt the art projects so that he doesn't feel so frustrated?...I know he sees the difference between himself and his peers...He tries to draw things at home but ends up handing me the marker because he knows it's not right...we are sorry..."

Thursday's Journal Entry:

"Dan was very proud of his new shoes! He showed everyone. :)

Yes, yesterday we were trying to adapt the pentangles, but he didn't like the adaptations to the task. He really wants it just like everyone else. How frustrating when your hand doesn't draw/write what you want it to...
Today's art class was much better! He enjoyed the adaptations much more. Jo Ann found texture plates for Dan to use on his pentangle. All the kids are creating black and white pentangles, but Dan wanted color on his. :) Dan loved  the texture tiles. It was a lot of sensory input. At the end of art Mrs. Holterman put Dan's pentangle on the projector for all of the kids to see. Dan was very excited his pentangle was shown! Everyone clapped. :)


THIS is inclusion. This is community. This is love and art and going the extra mile for a student to be happy, successful and participate with his peers. This staff is crazy wonderful. All of his teachers involved could have totally kept him out of art for this project, deeming it too hard, especially since he struck out at them.
But they didn't.
"More Art" Indeed.

(last year, Dan wrote President Obama asking for "More Art in school" as part of a writing assignment.)

Nature Boy

 I recently read The Reason I Jump, by Naoki Higashida, which was a great find. Then we went to the beach last weekend, just Dan and I, and spent hours wandering, watching, and running along the surf. It was magic. And ever since I've been thinking of this song...

Covered by the great Ella Fitzgerald here:

There was a boy,
A very strange enchanted boy.

They say he wandered very far
Very far, over land and sea.

A little shy and sad of eye,
But very wise was he.

And then one day, a magic day
He passed my way, 
and while we spoke
Of many things, fools and kings,

This he said to me;
"The greatest thing you'll ever learn
Is just to love and be loved in return"