This Autism Workshop May Surprise You
It surprised us! We recently conducted a Funny Food workshop at P811 Mickey Mantle School in New York, which serves students with multiple disabilities, autism, severe emotional/behavioral needs and/or severe language and communication disorders. The children were 1st and 3rd graders.
We didn’t know what to expect, but based on our workshops with “typical” learners we hoped we would be successful with these students too.
We had good adult support: two teachers, a coordinator, a few para-professionals and some parents.
Surprise #1: The kids were engaged.
They were excited, and laughed at Bill’s Funny Food creations when the images were shown on the smart board.
Surprise #2: The kids sang.
Bill wrote a song, played guitar, and sang to the children:
“When I play with Funny Food, it puts me in a happy mood.
And when I eat my Funny Food, it makes my body feel so good.”
We were amazed at how quickly and eagerly the kids learned the words and sang along with Bill.
Surprise #3: The kids stayed focused.
They were excited to participate when Bill showed them how to make a Funny Food face. He made it easy to understand that mixing foods with different colors adds nutritional value. The kids got the message.
Surprise #4: The kids made Funny Food.
We gave each child a whole-wheat pancake, and put bowls of fruits, vegetables and protein within easy reach on each table.
Every child made a Funny Food plate –a face, a boat, even a monster.
Surprise #5: They were able to delay gratification.
We asked the kids to wait until we photographed their plate before eating.
To our great surprise they waited before wolfing down the food.
Surprise #6: They ate what they made.
Teachers and parents were surprised that the children ate some foods they had not eaten before,
The children had fun in a semi-controlled environment and were given total freedom to use their creativity. The combination of music, visuals, a minimum of expressive language, and Bill’s soothing manner, enabled the kids to have fun and learn like any other group of children at our workshops.
You can see a video of this workshop here.
We’d appreciate your comments.