Savannah sets her own curriculum
When I am faced with parents or educators who seem sceptical that their children or students may actually have more to say than just “yes” or “no”; I am undaunted. I too never believed that Savannah would ever be able to communicate more than just making requests. The first time I was challenged on this issue, was when I attended an AAC course by Dr. Margi Lilienfeld sometime in 2004/2005. She spoke about “presuming competence”. I believed that Savannah was capable of more than she could show at that time, but I felt that all these symbols were too much for her. How wrong I was!
Now about 10 years later, still on the basis of “presuming competence” I asked Savannah to think about what subjects or topics she would like to learn about. Many people I have shared this with, seemed surprised that I included her in the planning of her curriculum. I know that Savannah has ideas and thoughts that she has not found the words for yet, and that as an 18 year old girl, it is so important for her development and ongoing learning to be part of the decisions that affect her.
She compiled her list using Beeline on the Grid 2. I was astounded by how many topics she wanted to learn about; and more so because she had a reason for them. In her very true autistic personality she listed just places. Her reasons were so insightful, and reminded us of how much she takes in, but does not always express. Yet with the right tools, she can find the words to command her life.
|Topic chosen by Savannah||Why she chose it?||Background|
|India:||“My friend Padmini move there”.||Padmini moved there early last year and they have not had contact for a year before that.|
|France:||“Soccer”.||She was the only person in our family that supported them in the 2014 Soccer World Cup. I can’t say why and neither can she, just that “I like them, mom”.|
|Mars:||“Nice place”.||I’m not sure why she thinks that. She says “Nice place mom”.|
|America:||“Ashleigh Farr go away there”.||Ashleigh’s family are missionaries from America who went to the States for 6 months and returned at the end of last year.|
|Portugal:||“My friend, Ryan old school”.||This really surprised me. She has not seen her friend Ryan in seven years and he is Portuguese, but I did not know she knew that.|
|Durban:||“My uncle Gabriel there”.||Michael’s entire family live there.|
|Cape Town:||“The sea”.||She last went to Cape Town when she was three years old and we spent lots of time on the beach…..or rather I tried to get her to enjoy the beach against her will.|
|Joburg:||“My place”.||I was stunned at that reason. It most certainly is her placeJ|
|Tokoza:||“Pracius lives there”.||Our helper is from Tokoza.|
|South Africa:||“My country”.||Again, spot on.|
|Spain:||“My teacher Luis there”.||She is referring to the teacher from Spain who returned there in 2009 and she has no contact with him.|
|Manchester:||“My dad there”.||Michael went to Old Trafford in Manchester last year March|
|Australia:||“Michon live there now”.||Her ex-teacher and good family friend moved there last year.|
|New Zealand:||“Debbie’s place”.||Debbie was her physio-therapist who moved to New Zealand in 2013.|
|Kimberley:||“Mum work there”.||I went to Kimberley on an overnight training in April to train a school. She even knows the name of the school.|