My obstacle: I have been teaching a student for several
months who is different from other children. It took me
months to ask his parents what exactly his handicap is
because they never disclosed that he is not on par with other
children his age. I assumed, from my experience with children
with Asperger's, that he either had some form of high-
functioning autism, or ADHD. His parents finally confessed to
me recently, that he is developmentally delayed.
It makes perfect sense. He is a 9 year old boy who acts like
he's 5-6 years old.
-He gets distracted very easily, short attention span
-If I take my eyes off of him for a few seconds, he'll bolt
across the art studio and start touching other kids' fragile
sculptures, wet paintings, students' parents' purses, things
he should not touch. He'll pour water cups all over the floor
and mix palettes of colors together into a gray mess that
cannot be used. Last Friday I let him change the position of
the little wooden mannequin we were drawing, and he ripped
its arm off.
-His grammar is not at the level it should be for a 9 year
His parents came to the studio and chose me (out of the
several art teachers available) to teach him how to sketch
realistically. Their specific objective, verbatim, "He must
learn how to draw things he sees in real life. No coloring.
No painting. No cartoons. No super heroes. Only real things
in real life."
They want me to teach their developmentally delayed child how
to draw in Photorealism, which is something that takes me, an
adult with an art degree, hours to accomplish. I fear they
are under the impression that he's an idiot savant [noun. a
person who is considered to be mentally handicapped but
displays brilliance in a specific area, especially one
But he is not gifted in art of any medium that I have exposed
him to. Against his parent's wishes, I have let him color,
paint, make pottery in class, and construct a multi media
sculpture of Spider-Man (we totally love Spider-Man). He
tried to the best of his ability, and his best effort equates
to the hard work ethic of a 5/6 year old. He is not a special
art prodigy by any means and repeatedly tells me he hates
I tell his parents that I am not the right teacher for him
because I have zero training for special needs children. I
tell his parents that he hates drawing and tells me this
often. They reply, "Oh we know, but he needs to learn
practical skills." I tell them that he doesn't always
remember what I've taught him and often feel like I'm
starting back at square one. It is currently February 2017, I
have been working with this child for one hour after school,
every week, since April 2016 and I feel like he hasn't
absorbed anything I've taught him.
His parents tell me how much he loves coming in to the art
studio and looks forward to it every week, and they feel he's
improving. I do not feel he's improving, I feel they need a
one hour break from him.
I have no idea what I'm doing "wrong", but I know that I am
not the appropriate teacher for him. I either need some
expert advice on how to teach a child with his condition, or
advice on how to tell his parents I am not qualified.