Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A Word To Students

OK, I've been reading some rounds of blogs with mostly complaints about people who do things that sound really, really stupid when you write them out in list-form on a blog. I teach college-level courses. I shall take a break from my usual autism topic to just say; here's some tips on how to really rankle a professor...

How to Really Get Your Professor In A Bad Mood:

1. Don't show up or complete a midterm. Show up afterwards or better yet, email, saying "Oops, I forgot to take the midterm. Will this affect my grade?" Yes. Yes it will.
2. Write a long, whiney email about how much work the class is. Explain that you are working a full-time job, raising kids, and trying to do a full courseload. You'll get bonus grumpiness if the prof is an adjunct, since it is likely that they are doing the euqivalent of all this while trying to hold down three or four jobs to your one- and being paid less.
3. Ask lots and lots of questions that are clearly answered in the syllabus. For example, "When is the midterm due?" or "do we have to participate in discussions this week?" or a perennial favorite, "What chapter are we on?"
4. Write rambling, tangential posts on discussion forums in poor English, then complain when you are asked to clarify the post. Ditto for in-classroom comments. Do this a lot for lots of extra grumpiness. For extra, extra bonus, complain to the Dean about your grade.
5. MIs-spell important terms and/or names in non-timed assignments. Complain when you don't get a perfect score. More extra bonus points for complaining to the Dean.
6. "Forget" to complete the first three weeks' worth of assignments. Complain loudly about how the professor wasted your money when they advise that you withdraw from the course. More bonus points for contacting the Dean.
7. Post unprofessional, "humorous" posts on discussion forums, or make inappropriate, off-topic jokes in class. Complain when the professor points out that the post or joke is inappropriate. Complain more when the professor deletes such posts or stops calling on you. LOTS of bonus points for whining to the Dean. Even the Dean will give you bonus grumpiness.
8. Turn in a paper that is 13 pages when the assignment was 20-25 pages. Or don't cite sources or examples when the directions clearly state you need to do so. Complain that you need the course to graduate- and you need at least a C. Guess what happens if you protest to the Dean (or Department Chair)...
9. Stop coming to class. Comlain about failing same class when you return the next semester. Bonus points for having sent emails about how you needed a certain grade in the same class to transfer/get off academic probation/graduate.
10. Sign up for class with long waiting list. Drop class. Sign up for it again. Drop it. Sign up for it again. Withdraw from it. Sign up for it again. Drop it again. Sign up for it again. Fail it...
11. Complain about other students getting accomodations... when you have no disabilities. Lots and lots of extra ire for complaining to the Dean about "favoritism." More bonus grumpiness for going onto public websites like "" and making nasty comments about the professor being an unfair grader (and yes, there are ways to know who send those comments, people... especially if you are registered.)

Students who flunk classes because they couldn't be bothered to do the work or follow directions always makes me grumpy. Don't let it happen to you.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


We've been spending a lot of time watching Signing Time around here. Rachel Coleman, whose children are the inspiration for creating the series, also wrote several interesting songs about having disabled children and thoughts about those children, which are often played (and signed) at the ends of the episodes. In one of the songs, Shine, she talks about lists of things she was told her daughter Lucy would never do- and now does. Over the three years we have had a diagnosis for Joey, we have been told by a variety of people that there are things Joey "will never do" because of autism. Mostly, these lists do more to reveal the ignorance other people have of disability generally and autism specifically, than provide any useful advice or information.

Joey may never be able to feel empathy, or recognize emotion. He may never recognize people. He may never generalize skills. He may never talk. He may never read. He may never write. He may never be able to handle change. He may never be toilet trained. He may never point, or have joint attention. He may never make friends. He may never be able to maintain relationships. He may never show emotion. He may never react appropriately to situations or emotions. He may never jump. He may never be able to focus on a task. He may never be able to self-regulate.

All of these things he either does, or is well on his way to mastering.

Sure, there are lots of "nevers" yet to be tested. He may never drive. He may never have a girlfriend. He may never get a job, or keep a job. He may never have the opportunity to go to college. He may never live independently or leave home.

Yet I have the sneaking suspicion that my response should be, as per The Princess Bride: "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means..."