Wednesday, July 16, 2014

L is for Lights & Windows

I've spent most of my summer downloading audio books from  I'm not a big reader. Yep, I said it...a teacher that doesn't care for reading. :o It's difficult for me to stay focused and awake unless it's something FASCINATING. (BTW, blogs don't count.  I can read those all day)  Therefore I turned to audio books-which I LOVE!

With audio books I can workout and listen to them, I can cook and listen to them, I can laminate and listen to them...even blog & listen to them. The first audio book I downloaded this summer was Temple Grandin's The way I see It . She is absolutely fascinating.

So what does Temple's book have to do with lights & windows? Temple mentions several times in her book about sensory issues people with autism have. One of the things she mentions is the florescent lights in the classroom.  Some people with autism are very sensitive to the flicker.  She mentions placing a lamp by the desk the student will be working at to eliminate the flicker, or have them wear sunglasses in the room.

I have found in my classroom, my students like the least amount of lights on.  It's against district policy to have a lamp, so I had to improvise.  Are you ready for some math? -Jk

There are 3 bulbs in each light panel and I only keep 1 on in each panel.  (How many bulbs are turned off?) This helped my students significantly.  They were calmer and it seemed as if they accomplished more.

Obviously when we are using the smart board...they ALL ask to turn the lights off. This is an easy way to assign a job for a student (and eliminates you walking across the classroom to turn them off).

Another factor that effects my students sensory input and needs are windows.  My room has 5 tall windows! At the beginning of the year I had curtains on every window, but by the end only 2 had had curtains. My students LOVE to look out the windows and kept knocking the curtains down to look outside.  We are off a 4 lane road and across from a stop light and they like to just watch the cars.  My students can earn the opportunity to take their break at the seat near the window.

Looking out of a window in my room on a rain day :) 
The weather can effect kids in weird ways! I've heard of teachers downloading a barometer app on their phone for a heads up when the atmospheric pressure changes because once it does change, my my students act completely different! Sometimes having the windows open can have a negative effect-especial if it's raining.  Luckily it doesn't rain too much in south TX. 

The windows provide a view for the buses. 
I think the real reason my students prefer the curtains off is to look out for the buses.  We can see the bus loop when we look out of 3 windows in our room and when three o'clock rolls around, they are glued to the window telling us what bus numbers have arrived and who needs to get their backpack. (This could also be another classroom job.) 

In conclusion, are there any other SpEd teachers who have noticed the difference florescent lights and windows make? Is there a negative or positive effect on your students and their behaviors?  What have you done to accommodate your students' sensory needs/wants when it comes lights & windows? I would love to hear, share in the comments below!

Miss, Hey Miss ABC summer series
Read other posts from this series! 

P.S. Temple suggests reading is Look me in the eye by John Elder Robison.  I also downloaded this audio book and loved everything about it.  John explains everything he remembers as a boy and how his logical brain doesn't understand why people just do or say certain things and why his actions weren't welcomed by others. He has had a fascinating life (a rough life), but fascinating!

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