Trash Compactor

Eddie is constantly testing boundaries and pushing to have things his way. Luckily, the educators that work with him are aware of his motives most of the time. This week, he decided he wanted the teacher’s chair instead of his own and was met with a surprise.

Apparently, every time they were at his work table, he would inch towards the right, trying to sit in his teacher’s chair. Each time, she would remind him that he couldn’t sit in her chair, and that he had to find his own spot. Eddie would reluctantly move towards his seat and plop down. However, he finally decided to push the limit even farther.

Eddie, as usual, walked up to his work table and began moving towards the right to find the desired chair. She said, “Your chair is to the left,” but Eddie kept moving right. A couple more times she told Eddie to move left, but he insisted on continuing to the right. Upon hitting an object with his cane and then his feet, Eddie promptly sat down. He sat right in the garbage can. To his surprise, he found himself with his seat in the can and his feet in the air.

He insisted on doing things his way, and found himself stuck in the trash can. This is what I lovingly call, a natural consequence. I absolutely love when these moments occur in Eddie’s life. When children who are blind don’t have an opportunity to make a mistake, or are guarded over constantly, they don’t understand that accidents happen. We tend to move obstacles from their path, and grab their arm when they might trip, and even clean up their spills. It is easy to forget that everyone makes mistakes, and we all learn from them.

A couple years ago, we had to stage a very real natural consequence to get Eddie’s attention. We have a gas fireplace, with a glass front that can be very hot. Eddie kept playing by the fireplace and we kept telling him that it was “HOT!” and that it could hurt him. Eddie continued to stray near it even with multiple warnings. We decided to swiftly touch one of his fingers to the glass front to teach him what “HOT!” meant. Eddie jerked his finger back immediately and scooted away from the fireplace. There was no damage done, and he hasn’t played near the fireplace ever since.

I’m guessing I could spout information to Eddie and his sisters from now until forever, and may never see retention. I also think that nothing sticks better than a natural consequence. Hopefully, Eddie will choose listening to his teacher over being a trash compactor the next time he sits at his table.