I have been a social worker for twenty seven years. In that time I have worked with many families in need. Part of my job as a social worker is to attend school meetings with the families that I work with. Most of the children that I work with have mental health issues so they have an individual education plan at school that needs to be reviewed at least once a year, and more often if a need arises that requires a change in the plan. Each time I am at one of these school meeting I marvel at the patience it takes to be a teacher, especially working with children with special mental or emotional needs. Two years ago at the beginning of the school year we had a meeting to review a plan of one of the children I was working with. The parents of the child had a very poor relationship with the school so part of my role was to act as a mediator. I arrived a few minutes early. I was waiting for the meeting room to be free so I was waiting in the hall outside a classroom where a teacher was talking about time. The children in her class were learning to tell time. She was very patient as she worked with them the few minutes I was listening in. The room became free, the parents arrived and we went in to wait for the meeting to start. We could still hear the activity in the room next door and I explained to the parents that the children next door were learning to tell time. They said that this was one of the things that they have been working on at home with their child, who is already in fourth grade. Learning to tell time was never a skill that he had accomplished. He has a diagnosis of Aspergers syndrome which is a form of autism. They have used regular clocks and digital clocks and have bought special computer programs geared towards learning to tell time, but nothing has worked. Part of the issue is that he plays so many head games with them that they do not know if he is understanding the concept of time or not. He is very intelligent and numbers are a strong area for him. When he came in the room I greeted him and said that I thought the meeting would start soon. He asked when and I said I was not sure but it was scheduled for three o’clock. He looked at the clock in the room which showed that it was three minutes to three. He calmly looked at the clock and said that he still had three minutes to go get something out of his locker. His parents were surprised. Some where along the line their efforts to teach him how to tell time had worked, because he obviously knew what time it was.
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