(For safety reason I will not reveal the identity of this young man)
“What inspired you to do this?”
“Because everyone deserves a fair chance, isn’t that what we’re doing here?”
The late morning brought us to our first workshop for autistic people in March. The workshops are free charity events for people with autism, or on the spectrum. Walking into the workshop I saw 5 people standing by the laser cutter. Weird, only two signed up. Having had a closer look they were John, who’s leading the workshops, Jonathan, who organized this workshop, a young man in purple and a studded hat and two woman standing behind, observing. Jonathan whispered to me: “We have one student today, the two women are his caretakers.” Ah, that explains.
The young man seemed elated to be here, he was pacing around with a wide childlike grin, he was really curious about his surroundings. Not one with the words, I must say. He would point to things that interests him with a passion to express himself.
We’re learning to use Inkscape and laser cutting today, we take our seats, (yes, including me), john directed us to find an image online. The young man seems to be at lost and didn’t take any action. His caretakers encouraged him softly and repeatedly to go on and asked him what he likes. I took the liberty of searching first to ease the atmosphere, he went along and searched for the same thing. The caretakers reassured that he can do as he wishes in class. It took him a few minutes to get out of his comfort zone to search for something of his own interest.
During lunch break, John brought out a toy looking electric saw. “This was what the young man made last time he was here, isn’t it nice?” Looking closer, it was not a saw at all, it was the model of a saw! And a rather well-made one with the shade of a hot pink color and a silver sprayed panels. The young man seemed shy to be talked about, or maybe proud.
When documenting this, I asked John and Jake how far I could go as to describe our special student, John gave me this answer: “All people have difference learning styles, some people like to reads/write/listen, and some prefer hands-on techniques, it’s not always practical to do all of them at the same time, we need to tailor our teaching style according to the students. Give them the spaces they need, for some students it takes a long time, accommodate them, then come back, make assessment according to the result, make changes. It isn’t about what the student’s condition or situation is in, it’s about the way we convey the lesson and accommodate them.”