Exploring Our Way Essay

2001 words - 9 pages

For my experiential learning project I volunteered at the Dover Children’s Museum. The second Sunday of every month they have a program called ‘Exploring Our Way’. Between the hours of ten and twelve they open up the museum exclusively for children with autism and their families. During our orientation with Paula, who is the leader of this program, we were given information about children with autism; similar to the general information we received in class. In addition to that we told about the adaptations the museum does at this time to make it a more comfortable places for the children with autism. For example, the sounds of many of the exhibits are turned down a little as to not present such a sensory overload. We were also showed areas/exhibits in the museum that are “quiet areas” so if a child was feeling overwhelmed we could direct them to these special spots. Paula told us that our role in this was simply to walk around and provide a friendly face for the children and their families.
On our first session we were told to arrive 30 minutes early to help set up the museum. There is a classroom in the museum that is used as a multipurpose room for whichever new exhibit comes in. During Exploring Our Way this room is used as the mapping room. The mapping room is where the children can make a social story for their morning at the museum. There are pictures of each exhibit in the museum and strips of paper that they can glue them onto in the order for which they want to view the exhibits. When we learned about this aspect of Exploring Our Way I thought this would be a really big hit amongst the children. I have two students in the class that I intern in who use social stories everyday to complete the tasks in their morning routine (read the morning message, sign up for lunch, check your job, check to see if you have finish up work, and free choice). During both visit to the museum not a single child made a social story to assist them in their museum visit; about three kids went into the room to see what was in there but none stayed to make a story. I found this interesting because we talked in class about how helpful social stories can be for new situations, and I have seen how well it works in my own classroom, yet it was the most unpopular thing in the museum.
Over the course of this semester I went to the museum twice during Exploring Our Way. The two times I went I had vastly different experiences due to my interaction, or lack there of, with the children and their families. The first visit, which occurred in October, I had little interaction with the children. I mainly just walked around and silently observed the children and how they responded to the different exhibits. I would smile to the different parents I made eye contact with, answer any questions they had which were usually just, “where’s the bathroom” or “do you have a trash can I can throw _______ away in.”. There was a resource table set up towards the entrance of the museum...

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