What Do You See?


Before we start, what do you see in the picture above? Take a second.

If you don’t know me, you might say, “It’s a mom and her kid.”

If you know me, you might say, “That’s Lisa and Denver, when he was a baby.”

If you’re my mom or mother-in-law, you might say “That’s my beautiful grandson and his wonderful mommy.”

If you’re me, then you might say, “Those are two of the most important people in my life.”

If you’re my wife, you might say, “It’s a picture of me and Denver on the first day I had to go back to work after being home with him. It was so hard to leave him. I hated it.”

If you’re Tommy, a 7-year-old aspie I worked with way back when, you might say, “Target.”

Look in the background of the picture. You see it?

I mentioned in a previous post how important it is to think about the world from the point of view of the kids we live and work with. If you bend the constructs of what you perceive the world to be, even just slightly, then you might be able to understand these kids more fully. If you can do this, then maybe you can work with them more efficiently. If you work with them more efficiently, then maybe, just maybe, that child will have better outcomes.

Let me give you a more concrete example. Names and dates have been changed.

I worked with a kiddo who loves to color. He is a natural artist. If he sees a coloring book, especially one with a certain, red car from a certain Pixar movie, he HAS to have it.

Anyway, this kiddo was having tons of difficulty completing work in class, specifically worksheets. The school had tried limiting sensory stimuli. They tried a token system. They  tried just about everything.

One day, this kiddo’s parents showed me the sheets they were working on. It looked a little like this:

The content was stuff that this child could do. I had seen him complete harder tasks with my own eyes. So what was the problem?

The boy and I attempted to work on the his homework together. He signed his name in pencil, then immediately started to color in a picture scene at the bottom of the page. Because of course he did. This kid loves to color. Loves. To. Color. The pictures on the bottom were such a distraction that it took us an additional 20 minutes to get through our work.

So, the next week, I prepared similar work without pictures. It took him about 20 minutes to complete 5 sheets. No problems. Then, as a reward, we colored a different picture.

Know your client. Know the kid. Look at their behaviors. This kid didn’t hate work; they loved coloring. Changing his lessons to be less distracting helped us better than any token system ever could.


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