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abc
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South African in Taiwan
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My area of speciality is Language acquisition and for this reason the following story interested me at first but now it is consuming me.
At the kindergarten where I work some mornings (teaching English reading to Taiwanese children) a new student joined a few days ago. I have been able to get away with not teaching phonics (although mainstream seems to think this method is better and research disagrees) purely because my opinion is respected and my results are miles better than anyone else.
Now this new little girl has thrown my life into turmoil. I was introduced to her with this line. "Her mother doesn't spend much time with her because she is too busy so she just watched cartoons and TV and she is autistic" My initial judgement is (i am a psychology major but not a qualified psychologist) is she isn't. They think so because she draws exceptionally well but doesn't communicate much woth peers or teachers (something I attribute to not having been part of proper conversations).
Now for the kicker. She speaks to me quite normally but in English not Chinese and with the fluency of a normal western 3 year old. Her Chinese pronunciation is strange but now that the teachers at school are listening to her and not just writing her of as autistic her Chinese level is fairly fluent as well. OK so far. This week I gave her an English story book (roughly grade 2 level) and she read it fluently. I was shocked. I then gave her a chinese story book and she read it as well but with strange pronunciation. I tested her understanding of it and it was well above average. She cried yesterday for her mommy and when the teacher said we can phone your mommy now she went to the telephone and dialed the number. her teacher stopped the call but I interrupted. I asked her her phone number and she said (made up number) 88-23-44-36. Not 8-8-2-3 etc. and the number was spot on. I then played a math game with her to stop her crying and she how well she did. She can do basic math (I didn't test more as I want to actually make proper notes) and she wrote sentences in English. She is THREE.
What is really annoying me is that they still consider her to be JUST autistic with a special skill and they keep referring me to Rain man (the movie) Do these people not realize they have a responsibility to this kid. This is 1 in a million special and autistic kids (the 10% that do have savant abilities) have one or maybe 2. She is brilliant accross the board. DO they not realize autism is classified in the DSM and not in Rain man. I have now written a letter to her mom asking if I can "teach" her for free two nights a week in a play environment and hope for a postive response. Just so frustrated that even the mother still thinks her kid is strange and autistic yet refuse to listen to any informed opinion.
This kid taught herself to read two unrelated languages by the age of 3!
How do I keep my sanity?
I need your opinion on my last question. I am very certain of the rest for now. This is Child genius as good as it gets.
Dustin Baker
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California
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She certainly sounds like a genius.

As for keeping your sanity:
You expected to enter public education and preserve your sanity? Not happenning.

When I was in kindergarden my mom worked for the school. She couldn't take me home while she worked in my brother's class, so I sat in the back of the room. My brother's teacher gave me the class' math work so I could feel included. She was shocked to find that I was perfectly capable of doing math, reading, and writing at a level comprable to her students.

When I went to first grade, I finished my work only minutes after receiving it and got bored quickly. My teacher said I had ADD and the school nurse put me on ritalin. We started home schooling soon after.
Think inside the box. . . it's less crowded.
abc
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South African in Taiwan
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What annoys me about this is exactly what you said. Why if a student is different from the norm do we assume there is something wrong with them. How about there is something RIGHT with them. I have to admit that I am very interested in researching or trying to figure out how she learned or learns to read and how it could aide our current teaching methods. I am not to sure that she can offer anything for the ordinary person.
Just to share a little story. My father is left handed. I assume I was or is as well. At school we were forced to and even hit if you cahnged hands when writing. To this day I can write with hands. I can eat with chopsticks with both hands and I still eat with my knife and fork in the "wrong" hand. That doesn't annoy me. What annoys me is that in grade 1 to 3 we got a score for handwriting. I got alomst full marks for everything except for writing because I think I wasn't supposed to write with my right hand. Why are these people teaching??? (we got 1 instead of A and 5 instead of fail). I was a good student and my report cards were ruined by that 3 or 4 that I always got no matter how hard I tried.
I am afraid that without intervention this girl is going the same route. She is going to be forced to learn their way and not her way.
Doug Higley
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V.I.P.
1942 - 2022
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Keep your sanity? Take notes. Take pictures. Follow the case. Write the book!

Doug
Higley's Giant Flea Pocket Zibit
Magnus Eisengrim
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Sulla placed heads on
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ABC,

Does this child's "specialness" provide you with special obligations? The ethical obligations of teachers (I'm speaking of my own jurisdiction here) are to each student, regardless of their talent. Given that each child brings something different to the classroom, this can mean that treating each child as she or he deserves can be overwhelming. It is not surprising that many teachers do not live up to the ideals that are held for them. Sometimes it is because they are indifferent or lazy, but not usually. Usually they

* misunderstand the situation
* are limited by their own abilities, time and/or health.

The question for you is this: how can you provide meaningful educational experiences for this child, while living up to your obligations to all the others? This is very difficult, as it appears that this child will have very different needs from her peers.

(Of course, if she were autistic, everything I say above would be equally true.)


John

PS
As for phonics, I suggest that you review the literature. I am not sure about the literature on second language learners, but the relationship between early phonics instruction and reading/writing in your first language is quite strong, and is well established. (Disclaimer: I am not a literacy researcher, but I am actively involved in some research with one.)

Good luck. And be patient with your student, your peers and yourself.
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.--Yeats
ed rhodes
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Rhode Island
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I was a "November baby" and as such didn't go to kindergarden (I don't know what the coorelation is, I was told later children born after September don't go to kindergarden. Something to do with the age, but I never understood it.)

So I start school in the first grade and after two days, they discover I can read. Not only read, but read at a third or fourth grade level. (I don't remember which) So they decide I'm "gifted" and bump me up into the second grade.

Ruined my life. For the next two years I was _two_ grades behind everyone else around me mentally and emotionally. Finally someone decided to let me stay and repeat the fourth grade so I'd be caught up mentally and physically with the kids around me. Emotionally was another matter, I think it scarred me for life.

They also wanted to put me on drugs, my mother said no for which I'm grateful as this was the early 60s and I don't believe they knew as much about what was going on in the head back then. When they wanted to put my son on Ritilan, I agreed because he was having serious problems and they were addressed by the drug therapy. When the school would call and say; "He's having a bad day, we should up his dosage." We would refer them to the doctors and say not to do anything without their OK, (which they never gave.)
"All the world's a stage, but the play is badly cast!" - Oscar Wilde
abc
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South African in Taiwan
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Quote:
On 2008-05-10 09:51, Magnus Eisengrim wrote:
ABC,

Does this child's "specialness" provide you with special obligations? The ethical obligations of teachers (I'm speaking of my own jurisdiction here) are to each student, regardless of their talent. Given that each child brings something different to the classroom, this can mean that treating each child as she or he deserves can be overwhelming. It is not surprising that many teachers do not live up to the ideals that are held for them. Sometimes it is because they are indifferent or lazy, but not usually. Usually they

* misunderstand the situation
* are limited by their own abilities, time and/or health.

The question for you is this: how can you provide meaningful educational experiences for this child, while living up to your obligations to all the others? This is very difficult, as it appears that this child will have very different needs from her peers.

(Of course, if she were autistic, everything I say above would be equally true.)


John

PS
As for phonics, I suggest that you review the literature. I am not sure about the literature on second language learners, but the relationship between early phonics instruction and reading/writing in your first language is quite strong, and is well established. (Disclaimer: I am not a literacy researcher, but I am actively involved in some research with one.)

Good luck. And be patient with your student, your peers and yourself.

This is the kind of post I needed. I agree but I also think it is wrong to diagnose a condition when you are not qualified purely because you don't understand it. I agree that all children are special and some are more intelligent than others but this does seem to be an extraordinary case. As for me....I am just a normal guy who probably should have played golf left handed.
As for phonics there doesn't seem to be any correlation between reading comprehension and early phonics instruction as far as I am aware. The children are able to read "better" when they have to read lists of words but performance on test where reading comprehension is important does not seem to be influenced by phonics instruction. I would like to know what projects you are involved in and maybe even stay in touch with what you are doing. It may be very interesting.
stoneunhinged
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Never be too proud to get help when you think you're in over your head.

Never be too humble to shake the trees to get help.

Abc, get some help...not from us (though I appreciate your asking). Start making some phone calls, buddy. Lots of them.

Jeff
stoneunhinged
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One more thought:

Never think that a single individual is not worth shaking the trees about.
Dustin Baker
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Quote:
On 2008-05-10 09:51, Magnus Eisengrim wrote:
As for phonics, I suggest that you review the literature. I am not sure about the literature on second language learners, but the relationship between early phonics instruction and reading/writing in your first language is quite strong, and is well established. (Disclaimer: I am not a literacy researcher, but I am actively involved in some research with one.)

That's true.

In 2000, Thomas Huxley conducted 52 randomized studies to determine the reading level of children using the "whole-language" teaching method vs. the phonics approach. At the conclusion, Huxley stated that "No matter what theory says, phonics is essential in teaching reading.

Huxley was an outspoken advocate of the "Whole-Language" method even after this study. He was quted again saying, "Science is organized common sensewhere many a beautiful theory was killed by an ugly fact."
Think inside the box. . . it's less crowded.
Josh the Superfluous
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The man of
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ABC,

I told your story at dinner tonight. My skeptical parents asked if the school or anyone was receiving additional funding, by classifying her as autistic?
What do you want in a site? "Honesty, integrity and decency." -Mike Doogan
"I hate it, I hate my ironic lovechild. I didn't even have anything to do with it" Josh #2
abc
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South African in Taiwan
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Let me just rephrase one sentence.
I do think phonics instruction has value but only phonics instruction without reading in context does not get the required results.
You should be comparing
a only systematic phonics
b only "whole" word
c no prior instruction
d a combination of a and b
to really see where you get the best results.
As for funding I am not sure Josh, but it would be interesting to know.
Patrick Differ
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Read "Profiles in Courage", again if you have to.

And fight the good fight.

Autistic or not, this child seems to thirst for challenges, as all children tend to do.

Fight the good fight. Do whatever you have to do. Act in the child's best interests.
Will you walk into my parlour? said the Spider to the Fly,
Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy;
The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,
And I've a many curious things to show when you are there.

Oh no, no, said the little Fly, to ask me is in vain,
For who goes up your winding stair
-can ne'er come down again.
kcg5
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who wants four fried chickens and a coke
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Profiles in courage is good, but read "born on a blue day" for a good autistic read.

I feel your pain man, I really really do. I work at a after school/ summer camp for "special" kids, add, autism, Asperger's , odd, ect. The thing that gets me is the drugs. It seems that the doc's up the meds when the parents complain, and it often turns them into zombies. And some of the parents just expect us to work wonders (I have to admit, I do make the occasional card disappear), they just drop them off. This job has taught me more than I could imagine, a helped me gain a direction in life. Kids are great, but sometimes they are surrounded by some s***** situations.

regards, kevin
Nobody expects the spanish inquisition!!!!!



"History will be kind to me, as I intend to write it"- Sir Winston Churchill
abc
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South African in Taiwan
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Something I did read in the last few days was the Prodigy (story of Bill(William) Sidis). Very interesting read. I will keep all that is interested up to date if I actually have the opportunity to properly work with the kid. The first problem to overcome is how to not upset the Kindergarten by teaching her in private (she will stay in the Kindy) but there is not enough stimulation. I will check out the books mentioned above but what I really need is scientific material to read. I have contacted a very highly recommended centre with Psychologists here in Taiwan and hopefully they will be able to work with me.
Dustin Baker
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California
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Quote:
On 2008-05-11 01:17, abc wrote:
Let me just rephrase one sentence.
I do think phonics instruction has value but only phonics instruction without reading in context does not get the required results.
You should be comparing
a only systematic phonics
b only "whole" word
c no prior instruction
d a combination of a and b
to really see where you get the best results.
As for funding I am not sure Josh, but it would be interesting to know.


We need to break out the "Blue Backed Speller" for the next generation.

Incidentally, Josh the Superfluous, I like your new avatar. It's much better than the old one; now if you could just get rid of that guy to the right you'll be in business.
Think inside the box. . . it's less crowded.
kcg5
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who wants four fried chickens and a coke
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Abc, I didn't mean to make you think that "born on a blue day" would be that helpful. just a great book written by a very smart autistic man. and JFK wrote profiles in courage
Nobody expects the spanish inquisition!!!!!



"History will be kind to me, as I intend to write it"- Sir Winston Churchill
Al Angello
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Eternal Order
Collegeville, Pa. USA
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Ladies and gentlemen take my advise pull down your pants and slide on the ice.
Al Angello The Comic Juggler/Magician
http://www.juggleral.com
http://home.comcast.net/~juggleral/
"Footprints on your ceiling are almost gone"
abc
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South African in Taiwan
1081 Posts

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Quote:
On 2008-05-11 14:53, Al Angello wrote:
Ladies and gentlemen take my advise pull down your pants and slide on the ice.

The irony in this post is that it's all about timing. I don't want to pull down my pants and slide on he ice in winter but I would love to do it in summer. Unfortunately there is no ice for me to slide on in summer and it does get pretty close to 40 degrees Celcius over here.
Al Angello
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Eternal Order
Collegeville, Pa. USA
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I did not think that there was ice in either South Africa, or Taiwan in any season.
Al Angello The Comic Juggler/Magician
http://www.juggleral.com
http://home.comcast.net/~juggleral/
"Footprints on your ceiling are almost gone"
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