Posts Tagged 'Autism Spectrum'

MUSCLES Impressions: How Interdisciplinary Summer Camp Benefits Students of All Ages

RCP_4677By Dr. Bill Henk, Dean of the College of Education

My visit to the MUSCLES camp this summer left me thoroughly impressed. There was obviously effective collaboration between the Speech and Language Therapy students and our Elementary Education majors, in terms of assessment, planning, and instruction for the children with Autism Spectrum Disorder being served. And the collaboration extended to their faculty mentors in planning and supervision.

In particular, it was gratifying to witness our Education majors implement best pedagogical and management practices with such fidelity and impact. Their ability to continually monitor and adapt to the individual social and academic needs and strengths of the kids was striking.

Likewise, it was commendable that all Marquette students, including the psychology and biomedical science majors who participated, clearly recognized the gifts of inclusion of a diverse group of children drawn from varying socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds. A major takeaway for me, given the increasing number of school-age kids on the Spectrum, is that there would be value in all Education majors learning more about teaching them, and for that matter, how to engage the full range of parents of kids with special needs.

Marquette offers a summer camp addressing literacy and social communication skills for children on the spectrum, aged 6-11. The MUSCLES (Marquette University Summer Communication, Literacy, and Enhanced Socialization) camp occurs during three weeks in summer. Contact MUSCLES at, or for information about the camp.

Reflections on the 2019 MUSCLES Camp

Marquette offers a summer camp addressing literacy and social communication skills for children on the spectrum, aged 6-11. The MUSCLES (Marquette University Summer Communication, Literacy, and Enhanced Socialization) camp occurs during three weeks in summer. An interdisciplinary initiative of the Colleges of Education, Health Sciences, and Arts and Sciences, the camp not only serves local children but also employs students. We caught up with Megan Smith, Class of 2019, to find out more about her experience.

MUSCLES 2019 meganBy Megan Smith

As a student, I connected with Dr. Walker-Dalhouse in class through her course and my work experiences in the College of Education. She invited me to participate in the camp two years ago, but it didn’t work out given my work schedule. What overall drew me in was through working with students on the autism spectrum, I had observed the fact that there are so many misconceptions about what student on the spectrum can and cannot do. Through my own curiosity, I discovered that there is not a lot of research out there, just speculation and was concerning to me as an educator. Thus, when I was told about the research, I was eager to participate.

My favorite part was watching the kids make friends and accept on another and not see differences. They look at the world through their eyes and see only similarities (an aspect that we as humans forget to see). The most challenging was learning each of their personalities in such a short period of time. I felt like I just ‘really’ got to know them, and camp was over.

I feel this will help me teach ALL young scholars. Through understanding how a variety of learners see the world and how they learn, I can better meet all students where they are and help guide them to success. This practice helps me see there are multiple ways to succeed at one task.

Prior to the program, I had always taught social skill and academic skills such as reading in isolated time periods I knew that cross-curricular teaching was possible, but I had never felt confident but now I truly see the benefits and that children grow and prosper when taught via a cross-curricular curriculum.






Go Deep : Finding Depth and Passion in Learning

By Peggy Wuenstel — Several years ago my husband and I embarked on a vacation plan, to see those things that don’t translate to the postcard view. Our travels have included the calving of glaciers in Alaska, the volcanic black sand beaches of Hawaii, the longest porch in the world on Mackinac Island, and this year, the majesty and scale of Yellowstone National Park. The picture that accompanies this post is me standing in front of a view of the canyon of the Yellowstone River. A two week road trip through the American West gave me lots of time to reflect on the depth and breadth of the way we view the world. For me, like so many educators, it also inspired rumination on the way we offer a view of that world to our students.

It is often only when we take the time to GO DEEP that we truly uncover the splendor and the meaning in what we encounter.

It seems that the breadth of knowledge students must master requires us to work at breakneck speed. There is curricula to get through, assessment to complete, documentation to provide, data to collect. The ways in which we gather and present this information has been transformed. Social media, digital whiteboards, video conferencing, hand-held technology all find applications in modern classroom. We have a broader range of students than ever before, from different family configurations, nations of origin, socio-economic backgrounds. The extent of background knowledge, access to technology, social opportunity, and cultural diversity that we are faced with provides both a challenge and a treasure. The scope of what we must cover and consider as educators can be staggering.

I spend a good deal of time working with individuals on the Autism Spectrum, including a grandson with Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS). One of the features that characterize the behavior of many of these folks is the tremendous focus on topics or routines that sometimes is part of the profile. A negative spin on this characterization describes their intense interest in trains, vacuum cleaners, dinosaurs or spinning as obsessions.

Looking through a different lens might redefine them as passions. The intensity, time commitment, and effort with which they pursue the details, incarnations and manifestations of their favorite items can also be viewed as a strength. The memory for detail, the ability to understand, categorize, and apply the distinctive features of their passions can forge connections with peers, provide a source of pride, and build bridges to other areas of learning and study. They constantly remind me that to GO DEEP allows me to understand on a different level. To see the most beautiful landscapes we must travel under the surface, off the beaten path and into the interior of what we know and believe.

Even in a world that requires the rapid and efficient acquisition of knowledge, we must build in opportunities to explore topics in depth. We must model the passion for learning that leads to artistic expression, scientific innovation, advancements in medicine, invention, scholarship , and leadership. We must reward and foster the pursuit of educational passions, and we must build in the time for this to happen. We live in a three dimensional world, where there is breadth, depth and height. It is only by allowing for both deep thought and broad interests that we allow children to reach their highest potentials.

As I watched the Packer’s Greg Jennings haul in a deep touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers last weekend, I was reminded that this strategy doesn’t work if we use it too frequently. Passion is only visible when there are peaks and valleys in our interests and efforts. The beauty of a river canyon is only visible as a contrast to the cliffs that surround it, the joy of a pass completion more dramatic when GOING DEEP was a big surprise.

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