Young Adult Lit/Crit

May 1, 2008

Joyce’s Seminar

Filed under: seminar feedback — Joyce @ 10:52 pm

Apparently I refer to myself in the third person when posting blogs about my own seminar.

I feel very warmly about my seminar on Autism in Literature tonight. Everyone had so many valuable contributions, and I am so glad to have been able to expand my knowledge of the topic by exploring it with Sarah, Erin, and Jess.

Sarah added a much needed critical perspective to the article by Tina Taylor Dyches and Mary Anne Prater called “Characterization of Developmental Disability in Children’s Fiction.” This article promotes choosing characters with disabilities that display several characteristics including reciprocal friendships and dynamic growth. Sarah pointed out that not every person who has autism is represented by this “type” of character, and that we should consider as teachers if this kind of portrayal is unrealistic, and in so being, perhaps unrepresentative of the very thing it aims to represent.

Jess made an important point about inclusion. She has spent a great deal of time tutoring a young person with autism, and has observed some of the issues we brought up first hand. Sometimes children who have autism struggle socially to the degree that circle discussions are a challenge. Mainstreaming children who are having a difficult time may in fact be detrimental to their learning. Changing our methods may be the key to opening up this learning environment to truly include these students. 

Erin followed up by making a suggestion about meaningful approaches within an inclusive classroom. Perhaps allowing for response to reading in a manner friendly to a person who has autism would promote confidence. Rather than choosing a literature circle, we might consider journaling after a novel that addresses autism. Good thoughts.

Thank you so much for being a part of my seminar, Erin, Jess, and Sarah. I was sad that we had to end our discussion so soon after we had begun.

Joyce

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