Making Friends With Contraints

Invitation For Opportunistic Learning

My 10 year old son Grayson, diagnosed with autism, absolutely loves skateboarding. In spending hours at the skate park alongside him, I have come to notice that many boys with ASD enjoy skateboarding. I am curious about this.

autism-skateSkateboarding is a very difficult sport requiring concentration and specific proprioceptive skill beyond what an observer would know. It is a sensory sport. It is a solitary sport where many individuals engage in parallel “play“.

Skateboarding is one of my son’s focus interest areas and I have used this to our advantage. Inviting him to take a deep dive into skateboarding and all it entails.

His math tutor uses Grayson’s interest in skateboarding to teach him about physics and math.

I am able to engage him in physical cross-training activities in order to expand his thinking and bodily awareness: All in the name of bettering his skateboarding abilities.

This is one example of how we as parents and educators can use a focus-interest area to expand our children’s minds and invite them to try something new.

Real Life Example: Using Constraints To Expand Upon Learning

  • Physics of Skateboarding
    • Math skillsautism-half-pipe
    • Timing skills
    • Distance measurement
  • Building a Half Pipe
    • Project Management- Money & Purchasing products
    • Planning- spatial, drawing skills
    • reciprocal conversation
    • Physical demands- using power tools (safety), hammers, nails.
  • Fostering Secure Attachments with Parents and Grandparents
    • Biology of being in the presence of – The Neurobiology of Mentorship
    • Emotional connection
    • Feeling of accomplishment
  • Cultivating Friendships
    • Friendship building- inviting friends over, hosting get-togethers.
    • Empathy for others when they get hurt.
    • Safety Protocol- for self and friends.

Learning Creativity Innovation

The idea that boundaries and limits produce boundless and limitless thinking seems counter intuitive and paradoxical. If we examine the mechanisms at work when we as educators face constraints, perhaps we can identify which kinds best promote, rather than diminish, creativity, learning and innovation.