Students with significant needs require that the teacher focus on functional life skills, communication, and self-advocacy. In order to practice these skills as authentically as possible, the teacher will occasionally have to create stressful situations that require student action to correct.

Listen all of y’all it’s a SABOTAGE!!!

-Beastie Boys (duh.)

Today’s sabotage is brought to you by those people who insist that sitting at work will kill you.

While students were out sensory-breaking, bathroom-ing, and otherwise occupied, I collected the classroom chairs and put them in a storage closet. When students returned, there were mixed reactions. Some seemed not to notice any difference. Others seemed amused. Still others started looking around the room as if they were searching for the missing furniture.

Not one student commented that the chairs were gone.

Not one student asked for a chair.

The rest of the day was simultaneously hilarious and sad. It was funny to watch the students try their best to follow their schedules without chairs to sit in.

photo 5

It was sad that the students were not able to find the words to ask for the object when it was out of sight.

photo 3photo 4

The students were without their chairs for five hours of the school day yesterday.

photo 1

This morning, the chairs were still gone but I primed the language by projecting several pictures (including chair) with labels on the SmartBoard. With varying amounts of prompting, all students finally asked for their chairs within the first three hours of school.

This was eye-opening for me. All students had the capacity to ask for their chair. The vocabulary was in their devices if they used one and all students had demonstrated the knowledge of the vocabulary. All students had even asked for their chairs if someone else was using it. As soon as the chairs were out of sight, however, it was a different ball game.

These two days have reminded me that I need to be sabotaging more often in order to stimulate functional communication and provide students an opportunity to advocate for what they need. Typical adults and caregivers throughout their lives should not have to be in the business of mind-reading!


5 thoughts on “It’s SABOTAGE!!!

  1. In the ABA world you created an accidental mand. In verbal behavior a mand is a request! You did indeed give them reason to use language appropriately and functionally. When we need, it becomes motivating to use language! I without snack…I’ll have it in front of me and say, “What do you want?” If they struggle, I’ll give a prompt! This is very exciting! Yay for sabotage and the learnings! This is how we meet our children’s needs! Btw, your classroom is orderly and clean! Nice job!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This was a fascinating read. I applaud you for applying real world need to encourage communication. The photos are great. We must all suspend assumption about what our kids can and cannot do, will and will not do. This really brings to light how we all must look wider and deeper to find ways to help our students be more functional in our world.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! My plan is to include more ‘sabotage’ on a student-by-student rather than class-wide basis in the next few weeks, particularly for students who are more prone to melt-downs. This will give me the opportunity to teach them to express their need/problem even if they might be feeling anxiety.

      Liked by 1 person

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