Be Specific Not Frustrated

Nadia Shanab | Uncategorized
30 Jan 2013

How would you feel if you asked a child to run, and her response was to run in her very same spot she was standing on?


It is the PE class and the routine activity is to start off by running a lap to warm up. All the kids are running and even racing as fast as they could. A student with ASD, known for being fast, decided to comply and walked up to the track and all of sudden slowed down. I wanted her to be part of the first ones to finish the lap. My thinking was that one of the student’s strengths is her speed, and hopefully this strength will give her some advances in her overall performance.

I shouted louldly: “Go Jenny go!” I got no response. I yelled: “Run Jenny run!”

Jenny did run, but how? She was conformant and executed the instruction. I was getting mad, seeing all the other kids passing her one after the other. Deep inside I know that she needs to win an advanced place to boost her self esteem and confidence.

It was not Jenny’s mistake not to win. It was my mistake. I was not specific. I realized that I had to tell her: “Jenny run forward!” Only then she started to run at her full speed. It was already too late. All the kids were already done with their lap and looking and waiting for her to get started with the second activity. She kept everybody waiting.

All the adults were cheering her on, but I was so frustrated. I was frustrated because I felt that she lost an opportunity to be recognized and appreciated.

I should have assumed that running is a gerneral verb that needs additional description like: run forward, run backward, run in your place… All these variations are valid terms.

The student didn’t mean to push my buttons. I just forgot to be more specific as I usually try to be.


Be specific as much as you can. Even if you sounded weird in the eyes of “normal” people. We have to be more flexible ourselves, before asking the spectrum kids to be flexible.

nadia schanab

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