The Power of Words and Images

Something BIG is coming!!! At Growing Kids Therapy Center, we have been sitting on a secret….a big secret!!!

This summer, five of my incredibly smart, talented, imaginative, nonspeaking kids created a FILM!!  We will premiere the film in a MAJOR RED CARPET EVENT this Sunday, September 28!!! This is the culminating project of a film camp that we held over a total of 5 sessions throughout the summer.

Inspired by Ben’s creative writing in a lesson we did in April 2014 on The Power of Words and Images to Change the World, we created a Film Camp! Five of my nonspeaking autistic kids participated and studied film and how words, images and music can change the world. Informed and ready to transfer their knowledge, “Ausome Autistics Productions” wrote, produced and starred in a film that illustrates their journey before and after using Rapid Prompting Method (RPM). RPM is an education method that allows people who have no or very little speech to communicate via spelling on a letter board or keyboard. Ben, James, Emma, Paul and Huan used RPM to produce this film and demonstrate just how incredibly smart they are through their beautiful language skills in the absence of speech.

Here is the lesson, with Ben’s responses that started it all…..

POWER OF WORDS AND IMAGES TO CHANGE SOCIETY

Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Christian preacher who loved to communicate with words.  He used the power of words to persuade church-goers to treat others with kindness, just as the Christian Bible teaches.  King also used his words to achieve equality for African-Americans.   In King’s day he and other African American’s did not have the same opportunities as white Americans.  African Americans could not attend the best public schools, get good jobs or patronize white owned businesses.

What was Rev. King’s job? HE WAS A PREACHER

How did Rev. King influence church-goers? HE INFLUENCED THEM TO BE KIND WITH HIS WORDS AND HIS EXAMPLES.

Reverend King knew inequality was wrong and wanted to end it.  He worked to convince American leaders use the legislative process to remedy inequality.  The legislative process includes a governing body which shepherds an idea from introductory bill to final law. Legislation has many purposes including regulate, authorize, grant, declare or restrict things in a society.  The March on Washington in 1963 sought to end racial segregation in schools and provide new legislation to prohibit racial discrimination in employment.  This march also sought to institute a $2.00 an hour minimum wage for all workers, and protect civil rights workers like Rev. King from police brutality.

What does inequality mean? NOT EQUAL

What is the legislative process? LEGISLATING NEW IDEAS THROUGH REPRESENTATIVES OF CONGRESS

Name one purpose for legislation, or creation of new law. REGULATING SOCIETY

Name one goal Rev. King had for the March on Washington. TO END RACIAL DISCRIMINATION

The March on Washington featured over a quarter of a million people who stood between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. At the time, this was the largest gathering of people in Washington, DC’s history.  This march is where Rev. King delivered his most famous speech, the “I Have a Dream” speech; where he sought to put civil rights advocacy at the top of the American governments agenda.  Thanks to television, millions of viewers at home participated in this march from their home. With this, words + images worked to create a powerful message across the country.

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What are some examples of media? TV, NEWS, RADIO, SOCIAL

How did image help to reach millions of viewers that day? TELEVISION CAPTURED THE MOMENT FOR ALL TO SEE

Imagine you saw this on TV with volume off. What’s the power behind this particular image? THE IMAGE ALONE WOULD MOVE ME TO TEARS. THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE COMING TOGETHER TO REPRESENT ONE VOICE CRYING FOR EQUALITY IS SO POWERFUL.

CREATIVE WRITING: In 1964, the United States Government would pass laws that gave civil rights to all Americans.  Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.’s words and images live on today as a reminder to treat everyone with kindness and ensure equality in society. Reflect on how Rev King used words and image to change the world.  Imagine you are the consultant on a film project about RPM. How would you gather words of those using RPM. Would you…. gather words through survey questions? gather words through non-verbal interviews? Interview RPM interpreters? interview those who may not believe in RPM? interview those who do not believe in RPM? Once you had the “words” you felt best represented RPM – what story would you want to tell?  How would you tell this on film or in images?

I WOULD START BY HAVING THE SURVEY QUESTIONS PARTICULARLY AIMED AT THE SPECIALISTS IN THE AUTISM FIELD.  I WOULD ASK WHAT ARE THEIR VIEWS ON AUTISM. I WOULD FIRST ASK IF THEY THINK PEOPLE WITH AUTISM ARE CAPABLE OF LEARNING. THEN I WOULD ASK IF THEY THINK PEOPLE WITH AUTISM CAN COMMUNICATE USING RPM.

NEXT I WOULD SURVEY FAMILIES OF AUTISTIC PEOPLE AND ASK THEM IF THEY THOUGHT THAT THEIR AUTISTIC FAMILY MEMBER WAS CAPABLE OF LEARNING. SO AFTER THAT I WOULD ASK THE SAME QUESTION TO EDUCATORS, AND RPM TEACHERS AND THEN ADMINISTRATORS. AFTER I HAD ALL THIS INFORMATION, I WOULD LOOK FOR RECURRING THEMES. I WOULD TAKE THOSE THEMES AND CREATE A MUSIC VIDEO. IN THE VIDEO AUTISTIC PEOPLE WOULD BE HOLDING SIGNS WITH THE THEMES WRITTEN ON THEM. SLOWLY THE SIGNS WOULD BE REPLACED WITH THE WORDS OF THE AUTISTIC PEOPLE THAT THEY SPOKE THROUGH RPM. STUPID STEREOTYPES WOULD BE SHATTERED. SOCIETY NEEDS TO VIEW US IN A WHOLE NEW LIGHT.

What are your expected results/themes? I WOULD EXPECT THAT EDUCATORS DON’T BELIEVE THAT WE ARE SMART.  I WOULD EXPECT THAT FAMILIES ARE HOPEFUL. I WOULD EXPECT THAT RPM TEACHERS ARE CONFIDENT THAT THEY ARE SMART.

What type of music would be in the video? SONG WOULD BE INSTRUMENTAL.

In a collaborative writing (each student contributing a sentence to compose the paragraph), here is what my kids have to say about their film. THE GOAL OF OUR VIDEO IS TO SHOW THE WORLD THAT WE ARE AUTISTIC BUT NOT SILENT ANYMORE. (J)   EDUCATION IS A RIGHT WE HAVE BEEN DENIED FOR TOO LONG. (E) IF WE CAN MAKE A MOVIE WE CAN LEARN IN A REGULAR CLASSROOM. (H) THESE ARE OUR WORDS PLEASE LISTEN AND SPREAD THE WORD. (P)

This is going to be HUGE! I am so proud of my kiddos I could absolutely burst! If you happen to be in our lovely town of Herndon, Virginia on Sunday, please join us for the premiere of “The Power of Words”! If not, you will have your chance to see the video and help us spread it around the world on Monday, September 29, 2014!!!! ~Elizabeth

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