Pretty 13-year-old Mano Kolman is Autistic. At her school being bullied by other students was part of her normal day. Many times she sat by herself at lunch, feeling very lonely and isolated. Then her parents took charge, and decided to teach Mano how to play the clarinet. With support from her school band Mano progressed in her studies and in her social life! The Kolmans explain how they helped their daughter change her life for the better.
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key.
Excerpt: Watch out, bullies: She’s got the band behind her By Rachel Rodriguez, CNN
“A few weeks ago, Emmanuela Kolman brought home her middle-school report card. She got an A in band, and her parents couldn’t be prouder.
Any parent would be pleased by an A. But for 13-year-old Emmanuela, who goes by Mano, that A in band is a symbol. It represents eight months of hard work, a collection of new skills, and, most importantly, a complete turnaround in Mano’s social and academic life.
Mano has high-functioning autism. That means she walks and talks a little differently than other kids, her parents say, and she’s “painfully aware” of these differences. Some students at her Staunton, Virginia, middle school treat her as someone who is not very cool…Mano has few friends and frequently eats lunch by herself. She sometimes comes home crying because of teasing. She also experiences sudden outbursts of anger and frustration.
Luckily, Mano has the dream team of parents on her side. Barry is a clarinetist and music professor at Washington and Lee University. Her mother, Grace, is a counselor working toward her Ph.D. in counseling and supervision at James Madison University. Last summer they were trying to come up with a strategy to help Mano deal with some of the bullying problems at school and decided to attempt an experiment: Barry would start giving her clarinet lessons…Plus, they both desperately wanted to give Mano a social outlet and help her become part of a group.
The first lesson, they spent 30 minutes just putting the instrument together. With autism, you really need to do one thing at a time,” he said. In music, you usually give about four or five commands per sentence, but for children with autism, you just can’t do that. They kind of freeze; they don’t know what to do first. So I had to kind of slow down.
He learned to speak Mano’s language, too. When she described the different kinds of notes on a page of sheet music as looking like different types of chocolate — dark or white — he went with it.
There are so many things just to get a note, all this coordination, which is very important in Mano’s case,…explaining that it’s sometimes difficult for children with autism to perform several tasks at the same time.
But once she got it, Mano took to the clarinet “like a duck to water.” Her parents noticed changes in her almost right away. It’s been less than a year since she started playing and already, they say, her speech has improved and she’s more focused in school, which has led to better grades.
But by far the biggest change the Kolmans have seen has been the improvement in Mano’s social life.
“Playing music can soothe the pain of isolation and provide a safe space where she is accepted,” said Barry.
Before, Mano wasn’t part of a group. Now she has the band. Her parents can tell from the way she brags about being a member that it’s made a world of difference. Mano’s mother cried as she described how being part of the band has affected Mano — and the whole family.
Barry keeps a journal about the results of teaching Mano clarinet, and he’s posted suggested lesson plans for children with autism on his website. The Kolmans, who have spoken and written about their experience (including on CNN iReport) so that others can benefit, say they’ve received dozens of e-mails from parents of children with autism.” Read more…
Level: Intermediate -Advanced
Language Skills: Reading, writing, speaking and listening. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.
Time: Approximately 2 hours.
Materials: Student handouts (from this lesson) access to news article, and video.
Objective: Students will read the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on autism through discussions, and writing.
I. Pre-Reading Tasks
Directions: Ask students to examine the title of the post, and of the actual article they are about to read. Then, have them examine the photos. Based on these sources, ask students to write a paragraph describing some issues they think this article will discuss. Have students use this great Prereading Organizer from Scholastic.
The K-W-L chart is used to activate students’ background knowledge of a topic in order to enhance their comprehension skills. The K-W-L stands for: What I Know, What I Want to learn, and What I did Learn.
Directions: Have students use the KWL chart from Michigan State University to list the information they already know about Autism. Later in the Post- Reading segment of the lesson, students can fill in what they’ve learned about the topic.
II. While Reading Tasks
Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary or thesaurus for assistance. Have students use the Word organizer from Enchanted Learning to assist them with new vocabulary.
- It represents eight months of hard work and a complete turnaround in Mano’s social and academic life.
- Mano has high-functioning autism.
- She also experiences sudden outbursts of anger and frustration.
- Last summer they were trying to come up with a strategy to help Mano deal with some of the bullying problems at school.
- They both desperately wanted to give Mano a social outlet and help her become part of a group.
- But once she got it, Mano took to the clarinet “like a duck to water.”
- Neither of Mano’s parents is technically a music therapist.
- Playing music can soothe the pain of isolation.
- Her parents can tell from the way she brags about being a member that it’s made a world of difference.
- I think the way she’s dealing with bullying now is much different.
True / False/ NA
Directions: The following statements were taken from the article. If a statement is true, students write (T) if the information is not available, students write (NA). If a statement is false they write (F) and provide the correct answer from the article.
- Mano is 13-years old.
- Mano has high-functioning autism.
- Mano took clarinet lessons with the band.
- In the first lesson Mano spent 2 hours learning how to play the clarinet.
- In music, you usually give about four or five commands per sentence.
- Children with autism need fewer instructions.
- Mano’s dad had to learn her language.
- Once she understood how things worked, Mano learned the clarinet quickly.
- Her speech still needs work, and Mano needs to focus more on her studies.
- The biggest change is that Mano now plays in the school band.
Structure and Usage
Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical error. Students are to identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.
- Mano have high-functioning autism.
- That means she walks and talks a little differently than other kids.
- She’s “painfully aware” of these differences.
- Mano has few friends and frequently eats lunch by herself.
- She sometimes comes home crying because of teasing.
- She also experiences sudden outbursts on anger and frustration.
- Luckily, Mano has the dream team of parents on her side.
- Last summer they were trying to come up with a strategy to help Mano.
- Barry had taught clarinet to other kid Mano’s age.
III. Post Reading Tasks
Reading Comprehension Check
Directions: Have students use the WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.
Who or What is the article about?
Where does the action/event take place?
When does the action/event take place?
Why did the action/event occur?
How did the action/event occur?
Directions: Place students in groups and have them answer the following questions. After, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the discussion topics.
- The article states, “When she described the different kinds of notes on a page of sheet music as looking like different types of chocolate — dark or white — he went with it.” Can you look at the sheet music (for clarinet) below and imagine the notes as pieces of chocolate?
- From the article you learn that “Last summer they were trying to come up with a strategy to help Mano deal with some of the bullying problems at school and decided to attempt an experiment: Barry would start giving her clarinet lessons.” Explain how clairinet lessons helped Mano with bullying issues.
- Have you ever met or know someone who is autistic? If yes, describe the person, and your experiences with them. If no, how would you feel about meeting an autistic person?
IV. Listening Activity
Video: Tips for Asperger’s / Autism Children – Preventing Meltdowns & Bullying
This is an informative video with a clear and easy to understand guide providing some tips to prevent meltdowns in your children with Autism or Asperger’s.
Don’t miss the website Autism Parenthood http://autismparenthood.com
Aspergers Society News letter (free) for parents and care givers of children with Autism or Asperger’s. http://www.AspergersSociety.org/newsl…
Directions: Have students find the meanings of these words and phrases from the video before viewing:
Asperger syndrome, meltdown, blackout shades, to fall off the cliff, to push over the edge, to push his buttons, to blow up, perspective.
True /False/NA statements
Directions: Review the statements with students before the watching the video. As students listen to the video if a statement is true they mark it T if the statement is false they mark it F and provide the correct answer. If there is no information available for a statement then students write NA.
- Children with Autism and Aspergers rarely have melt downs.
- A meltdown can be occur if they become overwhelmed at a store, or when playing a game.
- The first tip to prevent meltdowns is to keep kids away from public places.
- Children with Autism and Aspergers can become abusive both verbally and physically.
- Bullying is usually not a problem.
- Solving the problem of bullying can be difficult.
- School officials should be notified if your child is being bullied.
- Children with Autism and Aspergers need to exercise on a regular basis.
- Tip Number Two is to find a safe place for yourself.
- The safe place should include darkness and quiet.
- Tip Number 3 involves watching for signs of a meltdown before it happens.
- Children with Autism and Aspergers have difficulty smelling, and hearing.
- Tip Number 4 is to always try to understand from their perspective what is causing the anger and frustration.
Questions for Discussion
Directions:Place students in groups and have them discuss the following questions.
1. After listening to this video has your personal idea of Autism changed in any way? If yes, describe in what way. If no, describe your original opinion.
2. Did you learn any new information about children with Autism and Asperger syndrome ? If so discuss what you’ve learned.
3. With your group members, make up questions that you would like to ask the speaker.
V. Group Project
Barry Araújo Kolman, A Lesson for Children with Autism
Directions: Visit Barry Koloman’s website.
Place students in groups and give each group one or two lessons from Barry’s 7 -step lesson plan. Each group will list the advice from each lesson from Barry’s plan for helping children with Autism. Each group will share what they’ve learned with the class.
ANSWER KEY: Autism and Music.