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Behaviour Management Inclusion Special Education Teacher Mindset

The Wisdom Of The Crowd

If you take five runners who have raced 10km and add their race times together and divide the answer by five to calculate the average race time, that time will be lower than the fastest runner.

The Wisdom of the Crowd Theory works differently to this logic when applied to decision-making. It believes that the collective opinion or decision will be superior to any individual expert or specialist who works alone.

If you apply this theory and take five adults dealing with a complex issue, it suggests the quality of their solution and plan will be HIGHER than what any individual would decide alone.

Matt Syed’s book “Rebel Ideas” explains the diversity of cultural backgrounds and perspectives help people to view complex problems from a more holistic point of view. Together, a group can see an issue from many angles previously unseen. 

Like the picture above, if you have only one person contributing their opinion to what they are touching, they will most definitely be wrong. However, if you get the six of them to discuss their points of view together, there is a much stronger chance of a more successful outcome.

When teaching children with social, emotional or mental health needs, adopting this theory is wise: no matter how experienced you may be. Listening to, considering, accepting and offering different points of view will lead to better decisions and outcomes for the child.

As the famous quote goes:

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

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Categories
Behaviour Management

The Three Waves of Autism Spectrum Disorder

While studying, I came across an analogy in Educating Children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders: A Practical Guide by Martin Hanbury that could be easily used by teachers to explain Autism Spectrum Disorder’s (ASD) impact on a child’s learning. In the book, they compare the impact to waves. 

The first wave is the effect of the condition itself: communication difficulties, an affinity for routine and sameness, sensory issues and potential struggles organising thoughts.

The second wave is the behaviour that is caused by this first wave: socially inappropriate behaviour, the struggle with change, desire to escape situations that are overwhelming and difficulties switching from one task to the next, for example.

The third wave is the attitudes that form as a result of this behaviour. These include the quality of relationships that the child forms with those around them and the wider world. The first two waves can impact these attitudes and relationships significantly.

What I like about this analogy is how you can build on it. If you think of waves, you think of a surfer. And how does a surfer maximise the waves? Do they surf against the current? They do not.

A surfer will travel with the waves. They will harness their power and use the strength of the waves to their advantage. A teacher, special needs assistant or parent should consider themselves like a surfer when supporting a child with ASD. Instead of fighting the waves and trying to swim against the tide, they should go with the waves and work to the child’s strengths. As you adopt this mentality, you will realise that the strengths are many.

For example, if a child has an affinity for routine, utilise routine. If they have an interest that they struggle to transition away from, base your lessons around this to engage them. If they seek sensory input and like messy play, schedule it in regularly to art lessons. 

Instead of expecting children to change to suit us, it is a far more positive experience when we change to suit them. Surfing the waves is more fun than fighting them. 

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