Soma Mukhopadhyay ~ Day 3

It is hard to believe how much information Soma is able to pack into the first three days of a four-day training.  She has managed to cover the different learning channels and how to teach toward each one.  We learned about the various stages of development, left brain/right brain, the difference between an excitatory stim and a calming stim.  The importance of presuming competence, working through self-injury and highly charged emotional situations have all been discussed.  We were taught that social expression and gestures begin in the hypothalamus travels down into the body, then back up to the somatosensory cortex, to the pre-motor cortex and finally to the motor cortex and how at any point along the way, things can become disconnected causing the Autistic person tremendous challenges in behaving as we non-autistics might expect.  We learned about OCD and how to interrupt it by asking the student to spell a relevant word or introduce numbers and/or a math problem as a way of working with it while at the same time diffusing it.

Soma described how to implement a lesson plan around just about any topic, mental mapping and the different stages of rapid prompting method.  We went over methodologies and how to plan a lesson by using flow charts, listing objectives, relevant spelling words and key terms and concepts that need to be introduced, explored and learned.  She taught us the importance of teaching concepts, and the words used, as well as reading comprehension, spelling, grammar and such abstract ideas as time, symbolism, relativity, belief systems and throughout all of this Soma emphasized the importance of teaching age appropriate or above age level materials while filling in the gaps of what isn’t yet learned.

I’m exhausted, exhilarated, but exhausted and there’s still one day to go!  Today, the final day of the training, we are going to cover how to teach math and math goals, how to take and administer a test, how to teach poetry, literature and creative writing and the training will end in a review aka test. Tests have always been my downfall when I was in school.  I become anxious and overly nervous.  When I was in high school I learned to over study and even then I would become easily overwhelmed if I didn’t know the answer to a question and would get so upset that even the questions I could answer would go unanswered because I couldn’t move on from the one I didn’t know.  Writing all of this makes me aware of how similar my daughter is to me in this regard.  She also becomes fixated and upset when she gets an answer wrong.  She too has trouble moving on to the next question or topic, can become dis-regulated and overly anxious.  I will try to incorporate some of the exercises Soma has taught to see if I can interrupt my obsessive thinking if and when it happens.  So much of what Soma teaches could be used for anyone, even me!  I could write a lesson plan around that…


13 responses to “Soma Mukhopadhyay ~ Day 3

  1. Roberta (Bertie) Lowenstein

    Ariane, I am so excited about all you have learned and how you will be able to communicate and educate Em in the future. Don’t fret about the test, it is oral, and Soma moves around the room asking everyone questions. I’m sure you’ll do just fine from reading what you have been writing the past few days! You GO Girl!! Warmly, Bertie

    • The training was incredible on so many levels. And yes, I feel I have the tools to teach my daughter, finally… which is such an amazing gift. Thank you so much Bertie. Really. I cannot thank you enough.

  2. Ciara MacGrath

    My son (who is on the spectrum) is doing his “Mock Junior Cert” this week. In June he will be taking the state exams that all 15/16 year olds take in Ireland. While helping him to study I have been trying to get him to understand that it’s not what he doesn’t know that matters but what he does know. Telling him to answer what he is sure about first and then go back to the questions he is unsure of. I have been so worried about him losing confidence. I have been reading about your training course with such interest. My son is lucky that he has always had good teachers but sometimes a new technique or a different approach makes all the difference. Your daughter is so lucky to have a mum like you. I hope your test goes well.

    • Thanks so much. I’m wishing your son great luck on his exams! (The review went very well and was done casually. No on knew all the answers to every question she asked.)

  3. I’m lucky. I get to hear the more detailed accounts of her training when Ariane comes home each day. I was especially impressed with the things she learned regarding ho to interrupt OCD cycles. As Emma continues to make great progress with speaking, writing and math, it seems to me that the biggest obstacle she has to deal with is the obsessive-compulsive behavior that forces her mind into repeating scripts, echoing what others are saying or engaging in repetitive routines that interfere so much with true freedom of choice. Having had a significant problem with OCD in the past, I understand how debilitating it can be. Nowadays, it only effects my writing (which isn’t great for a writer) and I will often rewrite material just so the lines on the page look more pleasing to me. For Emma it is all-pervasive. I often wonder how much of her autism is really OCD. They are so hard to pull apart. It would be so great to be able to effectively treat OCD just to find out–but as far as I know the only effective OCD treatment is anti-depressants. Sorry, no Prozac for Miss Emma. I’m very grateful for Soma’s suggestions which seem quite brilliant. Hopefully Ariane will give some specific examples in a future post. Hint. Hint.

    • When I work with Em and am able to use some of the techniques Soma taught I will certainly give specific examples. Assuming I’m able to apply all of what I’ve learned!

  4. Enjoying this venture with Soma.

  5. I’m completely jealous of the training/info your receiving! (and, thanks for the comment yesterday 🙂 Is there anything that you’d be able/permitted to email my way? I’m giving a presentation at the Colorado State Pupil Transportation Association conference on the 25th in Brighton. This will be Special Education Transportation Coordinators from all over the state and my speech will cover the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of creating individual Texture Books for Autistic students, PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System and it would be nice to close with ‘Presumed Competence.’

  6. Jesse – Anything you’d like to quote (if there is anything I’ve written on the presumption of competence that you feel is relevant) please feel free to quote me. Not sure what else to add as I do think our attitudes and letting go of our prejudices and ideas of our own superiority are the most important things all of us can do.

  7. Alexandra Woods

    Hi Ariane.

    I have been learning so much, and it applies to adults I am working with who have OCD, and many other issues. Thinking now about simple ways of refocusing, slowing down, etc. Very, very evocative.

    X Alexandra

  8. Pingback: Our Amazing Adventure | Emma's Hope Book

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