Health care is a basic human right, not a privilege. For some reason, we’ve allowed ourselves as Americans to be fooled into accepting that one must be blessed with “means” to actuate appropriate health care. As a nation we have failed to realize that our health care system is a barometer of our society’s value for human life.

-Me

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Art of Generalization

Until recently, I really didn't think about the skill involved in generalizing the things we learn. We all do it fairly often, and we do it instinctively. We use generalization to take lessons we learn in one situation and transfer that lesson into new situations. A few of the variables may be a bit different, but the lesson remains the same. We save ourselves a lot of heartache in the process! I've been thinking more about generalization and the role it plays in our lives lately for one main reason. One little guy in my life just doesn't do it all that well.

A few months ago Sandis, Gracie, Bob, and I were all sitting at the table for dinner. Sandis was precociously blowing bubbles through his straw into his drink. Bob very politely explained to Sandis that it was impolite to blow bubbles through your straw into your milk at the dinner table. Sandis listened and processed this information, then promptly proceeded to blow bubbles once again into his drink. Bob, frustrated, reminded Sandis what he had said and told him to stop. Sandis very matter of factly responded with: "It's not milk Bob."

That explains Sandis's inability to generalize right there. Because his drink was something other than milk, and Bob had said milk, whatever Bob had said simply did not apply. (This also says quite a bit about the literalist in my son, but if you ask me, they are one in the same.)

AAAACKKK!

I cannot tell you how many times I have felt like I was going to blow my top as Sandis calmly corrected me concerning something such as this. Man, this really used to make me BOIL! Now that I understand autism a little better, it doesn't make me as mad, but there is no handbook of how to handle this for everyone else that deals with Sandis. Usually when he does this he just sounds like a major smartass. Which he is, but this isn't intentional smart-assism!

So that brings me to this point, how do you teach something that just seems so, well, intrinsic in our personalities? How do you teach a child to generalize information in a way that will work every single time? How?

I don't even think there is a way. If my health insurance paid for speech therapy, we could work on generalization skills in social situations once a week, but Blue Cross Blue Shield only covers speech therapy for "organic" causes or traumatic injury causes. (What the hell? Autistic youth aren't deemed worthy of appropriate speech in social situations? Or they just figure that this is federal government disability coverage territory and they want nothing of it? Bastards...) But I digress....

One major issue for Sandis in the area of generalization is bullying. How does bullying fit into the generalization problem area? The "No Tattling" Rule. If Sandis is picked on or bullied, because of the no tattling rule, he doesn't tattle. AAAACKKK! Do you have ANY IDEA??? how many times the no tattling rule is reinforced during a day in the modern day kindergarten?

COUNTLESS!

So how do you teach a child to discern that some tattling is okay and some tattling isn't okay? Especially a child that isn't well-versed in social do's and don'ts in the first place?

This is one issue Sandis's teacher and I have taken on. Hopefully we will see some good results and make some good headway. But it is hard to wonder what generalization factor will be next......and I wonder with that what impact this inability to generalize information will have on Sandis's life as he grows older. I really don't know if this type of thing can be taught, but I guess I'm gonna do my best to try......

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

If you find a way to teach Sandis how to generalize, please tell me! That's one battle we have not won and it does have a great impact.

Does he get speech therapy at school? If not, he should and you can ask for it.