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Learning from the Best

“You learn something new everyday.” My grandma would always remind me that there is always an opportunity to learn something. I remember learning a lot of life lessons from her but one time in particular stands out as a true guiding moment. I grew up in a hispanic household and my absolute favorite thing was homemade flour tortillas. Not just any homemade tortillas though; they had to be grandmas. The way that they would come hot off the stove and we would slather butter onto them before they could cool. One day grandma thought I was ready to start learning how to make tortillas myself.

With the spanish music turned up and grandma in her favorite apron she set out to pass down her recipe. There were no cups to measure with or written down records it was just what she knew in her head. It seemed that flour was everywhere and the smell of the warm stove made me ready to get started. The thing is that without knowing it she put together an authentic and meaningful learning experience for me unlike that of a classroom.

She walked me through all of the ingredients but when the time for guiding came around it was involved in the rolling. Rolling is important to making tortillas. Too thick and you have a gooey mess too thin and you end up with crunch air bubbles when you cook them. She showed me with a roll, roll, roll and a flip how to make perfect tortillas. Mine weren’t perfectly round at first but she encouraged me as we went and the treat was still the same at the end. I got to make tortillas for her. The closest thing I can compare it to is having coffee with a friend. My grandma and I would sit in the warm kitchen eating tortillas and listening to her mexican music on the radio while she danced around. The thing is that this learning experience has lead to many other things in life.

Through true guiding and learning experiences you are not just taught a skill but instead build a level of competence and trust for other learning experiences. I always knew that if grandma was going to teach me something that she would give me just enough of a learning experience so that it was not too hard or too easy for me. I learned more than cooking from grandma such as how to embroider and clean. A good guided participation relationship is key to this process of guiding.

In Relationship Development Intervention we take the opportunity to build a strong guiding relationship between you and your child. From there your child can learn just as I did with my grandma that what you have to offer is important and will be in a just right zone for optimal learning. They will look to you for guidance just like the young child wandering off to play. Children with autism are often lacking this relationship with their parents and without it authentic learning is very difficult to develop. This ability to function as a student or apprentice in learning opportunities is also used in the various relationships you make as you grow. The relationships with teachers and friends. The experiences at jobs learning new skills or trades.

Can you remember a time when you where an apprentice or student? What about that opportunity made it easier for you to learn? Did you continue to learn in the future from that experience?

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