Yesterday, I developed an exercise program for two of my students with high-functioning Autism.
Well, it was a semi-exercise program.
There was a mini-trampoline, jump rope lines to run between, hula-hoops to jump in, balls to toss.
But these exercises were actually intended to develop brain strength and flexible thinking. Based on Michelle Garcia Winner’s Superflex program, this activity tested a student’s ability to change activities rapidly and without warning. I told a student he was to jump on the trampoline for 15 seconds. But 5 seconds into the jumping, I “changed my mind” and had him run between the jump ropes.
What was interesting to me was that the students did not respond as I expected them to do. The child who is very rigid, requires a picture schedule for every part of his day, and will obsessively tell you parts of a routine, was able to transition between activities very well. His brain was being “super flexible”. The child who appears to transition fairly well, has genius level IQs, and can tell you all about “flexible thinking” was irate at the activity transitions. He declared that I had “tricked” him and I was “out to get” him. He was so agitated that he continued to mumble and complain about the exercise for the next hour.
Fortunately (or maybe not!), I video-taped the events. Next week we will review the videos and the students’ flexible thinking. We will decide together whether or not they “passed” each event. Should be interesting…