Perspective: What do you see?
For all of us, our own personal perspective is very powerful and it controls how we react, respond, and live life. Perspective. What is it? It is a metal point of view in essence and through that point of view how we perceive our life is dependent on how we allow ourselves to look at relationships and our interaction with others throughout our lives.
As a mother and a teacher of children who have Autism Spectrum Disorders, I find their idea of perspective simply fascinating. I am fascinated with their honest (can I say blunt) outlook on events, school, family, and life in general. Their perspective, generally, has very literal, concrete, and inflexibility to it. As a mother and teacher, my job is to show my children and students that their perspective can “bend”; it can become more flexible.
Where or how do you start to teach them that their point of view can change and or bend? By using literature to demonstrate to my children/students that all the different characters have their own perspective, or point of view, and through examining the characters in a story we can learn why and how they reacted and responded to the situation the way that they did.
For example, when you take a look at many of the fairy tales or nursery rhymes, it becomes apparent that many of the characters are on the “Spectrum”. One of my favorite characters is Little Red Riding Hood. When it comes to perspective, her point of view, or theory of mind, is very narrow and quite literal. First of all, it never seems to cross her mind that talking to a wolf is a strange idea. For her it is simple: the wolf asked a question, and so, she answered it. Later on in the more dangerous portion of the story when she is asking her “grandmother” (the wolf dressed in night clothing) about all the different facial features, she seems to suddenly become more aware that “something is not quite right”, but she can’t get a grip on what the difference actually is until it is too late.
For many of our children on the Spectrum, I witness this “too late” grasping of the social concept as the social event unfolds before them. Usually it manifest itself as responding to a question a few seconds too late, being worried about what they will say in “small talk” or being taken advantage of. Again, it is a perspective issue and that is what we are trying to help the students to understand so that they are better prepared as they enter each social situation throughout their day.
Perspectives. We all have them and the trick to perspective is to understand that everyone looks at the same social situation a little differently—and that’s ok. The main goal is to help children with Autism Spectrum Disorders to remember that their point of view is not the only one in the room. It is a challenge for them to grasp it, but through concrete structure, character reflection, and spiraling of skills we can penetrate the part of the puzzle and help them to better cope and understand the social world that they are involved in. Perspective…it is powerful.