I had dinner with and old and dear friend recently who happens to also be a wonderful Speech Pathologist. She and I were discussing a challenging client that she currently has. Our conversation went many places looking for something to support this boy. School support, parent support, respite, nutrition, sleep, siblings and screens. In amongst all of that, we weaved through motor planning and she said something so profound that I stopped her and had her repeat herself. "Motor planning starts with ideation." Well duh! But I had never thought of it in that way. Ideation, the thought that "hey I want to get that item," leads to telling your arm and hand muscles to go get it.

I circle back to this idea so often in my groups. Particularly in Exploration but definitely when working in Groupness, my focus is on providing opportunities, suggestions, and models, but not directions. I don't want students to follow me wherever I go and do what I do. I am not going to be with them for the rest of the day let alone their lives so what difference can I actually make if all they achieve is being good at being me? Instead, I offer materials and choices within a set boundary and then allow my learners to move within that boundary and discover their own ideas. What do they think is important or useful? What are their ideas for solving the problem? Why would my female, middle-age teacher idea be any better than theirs?

Especially in early teenagers and beyond, I see too many learners who are passive and prompt dependent. They have had their ideas squelched so many times that they don't even offer one anymore. This includes for their own needs or wants like using the bathroom or eating. Specific behaviors can be necessary (think don't walk in front of a moving car, don't touch the hot stove). But when it comes to using art materials, deciding on a snack, or even washing the dishes, there are a ton of right answers. Why can't people with ASD be supported to have ideation wherever possible?