Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A trip to the art museum

Deborah's post at 5 Minutes for Special Needs inspired me to dash off a quick blog post.
When my mother taught at a private school for children with special-needs, I would occasionally come to help out when I was on break from college. Her kids were little charmers, and I enjoyed my time there. One day they got to go on a trip to the local art museum, and I came along to be an extra pair of hands and eyes. And because, hey! Art museum with kids! :)
One elementary school-aged girl on the trip was named Sarah. (Well, not really, but for the purposes of this blog.) Sarah has autism. She required an aide, who came with her on this trip. Her aide told me that Sarah liked to tap any glass that she saw. She liked the sound, or the feel of it. She did not like to pass glass without touching it.
You know how sculptures and vases at museums have those plexiglass cases over them? Do you see where I'm going here?
The museum staff did not seem to know how to deal with our group. I remember one woman in particular following us like a hawk and getting very agitated whenever Sarah touched the glass. Towards the end of the trip, Sarah would pass the art, glance at it, and say, "Don't touch...don't touch..." She would also say, "I'm ready [to leave]." She was seriously unhappy. But they would not let her touch the glass.
Now, I understand why they have those rules. A careless shove could destroy a very important and beautiful piece of art. But Sarah was not shoving. Sarah was lightly tapping. The worse that would have happened was a smudge on the plexiglass. The best that would have happened was that Sarah would relax enough to actually enjoy the art she was seeing.
The other children were having a good time, and were excited to see work by artists they had studied in art class. Everyone, including Sarah, was well-behaved. I just wish the museum could have relaxed a little, so that Sarah could have relaxed a little too.


Lori said...

I'm torn. I want people to help Myah understand the rules, but I wish some people could be a little understanding and relax!

Anonymous said...

Sounds stressful...totally.