I like the idea of diary writing and journaling, except that I rarely make the time to write anything in them. And of course, I like the idea of blogging too, except that I’m still a bit unsure of putting my thoughts out there to the wide world, still being a bit shy & unsure of myself at times. (Maybe blogging will help that too in time?)
But generally I appreciate the concept of reflection – putting your thoughts, feelings and ideas down somewhere concrete, so that you can step back and think over them more clearly.
And so this week, I had the opportunity to introduce this practice to my son. He is 13, currently going through puberty, Year 7 in High School, and bullying. He also has Asperger’s. His social interactions aren’t too bad, but if he is stressed or overwhelmed, then confusion, frustration and anger are inevitable.
He had a meltdown at a friend’s birthday party this weekend (he was in such a bad state when he came home that I doubt he’ll ever be invited to another one again). He went with stubborn preconceived notions of how the day would go, and when things went differently, well, it wasn’t pretty. I could pick out the things that went wrong, blame this and that, but it won’t change things. We just move on & deal with it, and hope that next time will be better.
I felt so bad for him, because I couldn’t change the result and make it all better for him. What’s done is done. But I could try to change his outlook afterwards. And so I introduced him to the process of self-reflection through reflective journaling.
Reflective journaling is a technique that any of us can use, with so many benefits. Great for teachers, great for students. This blog is an example of sorts. Another lovely example of reflective journaling in education, great for us teacher-types, can be found here:
We discussed the basic concept, and he was offered 2 choices: book or computer. Being the type of kid that still thinks of computers as a toy rather than a tool, he opted for that. But that’s ok, because I saw hidden benefits that he didn’t.
- He gets to practice his typing skills, which will help him in school;
- he broadens & grows his understanding of ICT from fun toy to productive tool;
- he can cut & paste pictures into it, so it can be as visual as he wants, helpful for ASD visual learners;
- he can play with fonts, backgrounds, multimedia files, etc, and use the creative opportunity to positively transform his mood and his attitude to this process;
- and by reflecting on the emotions he writes about, like social stories, he may be able to enhance his sense of empathy, often limited in children with Asperger’s and ASD.
Even though I had to model it for him a bit at first, he got the basic hang of it quite well. I was quite surprised with what he’s created so far. And so, I’ve encouraged him to stick with it. He’s done 2 entries so far this week. I may even try to encourage a written one for him as well later, to scribble artwork, etc, and improve his fine-motor skills, which suffer in many ASD kids.
For the time being, I prefer to keep his journaling off-line, while his anger may still get him in trouble. All it takes is to name one person, and all manner of troubles may ensue. So we’ll play it safe for now. He may be interested in blogging one day. But regardless of which medium we use, I remain hopeful that this may be a positive practise that he can rely on in future to regulate his own moods & reactions, and hopefully grow as a human being, as the wonderful young man I know him to be.