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Notice something new

Many of you are aware that April is Autism Awareness Month. Some of you know we have a non-verbal grandson on the spectrum and that I used to work in Special Education classrooms.

I recall a day that I had the pleasure of observing non-verbal children with autism experience new things. It reminded me that we need to take the time to try and figure out how children learn, so we can not only teach them, but enter into their world with them. 

We were outside and one child was running down a sidewalk. 

He started in the sun, but came into a section of the walk that was shaded and stopped.  He stood for a minute and turned to run back up the sidewalk, into the sun, at the exact spot he had started before and run into the shade again… and stop.  This process was repeated numerous times.  I wondered, “What is he thinking?”  Was this child noticing the changes in light, or maybe the changes in temperature?  Perhaps he was noticing that his shadow had disappeared.

Another child was very thoroughly examining a budding bush. 

He looked at it from a foot or so away.  Then he inched closer and still closer until he actually got poked in the eye from being so close.  Then he walked completely around it, sometimes on tiptoe and sometimes stopping to squat down. Again, I wondered, “What is he thinking?”  Was this child noticing the difference between the feel of the stems and the leaves?  Perhaps he was smelling the just budding blooms.

Once inside, I sat with a child who was joyfully rustling a rough paper towel, up and down, fast and slow, sometimes tearing it.  Yet again, I wondered, “What is she thinking?”  Was this child noticing the difference in the sounds of fast, slow, and tearing?  Perhaps she was feeling the breeze the waving paper towel produced, or maybe she was enjoying watching it flutter about.

I may never know what these children were thinking about, but it broadened my senses and my thought process just by watching them examine something so joyfully.

Every day offers us new experiences. 

If you haven’t noticed something new, you aren’t paying close enough attention.  Take a moment to see things differently and you’ll discover something you had not considered before.  Try it, you’ll see.

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