"Through Repetition of Thought"
When Embry slipped away
from her parents for 2.5 minutes
and in that time somehow managed
to get an airlock halfway open,
Armelle had a panic attack
and three more people moved
out of the "kiddie corridor."
"Puzzle!" Embry said
every time they passed
a locked door.
"That's not a puzzle,
that's an airlock,"
leading her away.
"Embry is going to get
herself killed," Armelle said.
"No she won't," said Bottleneck.
"She just needs some toys
of her own to play with."
He found a set of nesting bowls
in different colors and painted
numbers on their rims.
He cut slats of metal and
fitted them onto pegs along
the length of a curving board,
so they would chime when hit.
Embry sat on the floor and
played happily with the toys.
Then she went right back
to trying to open the airlocks.
They couldn't simply seal the airlocks,
because sometimes people needed
to go outside or bring things in.
That was a problem.
It was Darmid who found a solution.
"People here have routines," he said.
"They're brilliant at finding the best way
to do something and then repeating it
precisely every time. Embry is doing
the same thing, and Tyson is also
pretty good at it. Let's do what works."
"You mean just ... teach them by rote,
the rules for airlocks, instead of trying
to make them mind adults," Armelle said.
"Some kinds of problem have
only one right answer," Darmid said.
"Two plus two will always equal four,
and this is the routine for airlock safety."
"It is for Orion airlocks," Bottleneck said.
"Carinan ones are a bit different. I had
to learn how to handle this kind
when I first moved here."
"And you did fine with that, so if
the children move later, they can learn
the other style then," Darmid said.
"We'll start with the home kind."
So he read the regulations that
had come with Sargasso Base,
and he observed how the adults
held themselves and moved through
the safety steps one after the other.
Darmid got some paint and added
pairs of large and small footprints to
the markings around the airlock doors.
Then he copied the safety rules in
simplified language onto the wall,
with cute illustrations of what to do
so that the children could understand.
Finally Darmid brought all of the children
to a newly decorated airlock and said,
"This is an airlock. It keeps air in so we
can breathe, and it keeps space out.
So we only open it when we're wearing
spacesuits. First we're going to learn
the routine for airlock safety. After we
all know that by heart, then we will
move on to spacesuit safety."
He showed them where to stand.
He showed them what parts were
safe to touch or dangerous to touch.
He showed them the pattern of lights
and how those changed depending
on whether there was air in the lock
or people standing too close.
"They're never going to remember
all of that," Armelle said.
"Let's find out," said Darmid.
"Tyson, Mair, Embry, how much
do you remember of today's lesson?
Show us the steps that you know."
Tyson and Embry did pretty well,
and even Mair remembered
to put her feet on the prints.
"Well done!" said Darmid.
"You really paid attention.
Let's go get some yogurt.
Tomorrow we'll come back
and practice this again."
Then he looked around and
realized that a small crowd of
adults stood behind the children.
"What's this all about?" he said.
"We're new here too," said Janus.
"Do you mind if we follow along?
You make a lot more sense
than the regulation pages."
"Of course," said Darmid.
"My lessons are open to anyone."
"You really think this will work,"
Armelle said, leaning forward.
"Some people learn best from
interaction with each other,
while others seem to learn best
through repetition of thought,"
said Darmid. "It's just a matter of
teaching people however they learn."
"I wish I could have had a teacher
like you," Bottleneck said with a sigh.
"Mine just thought I was stupid."
"You can now," Darmid said.
"My lessons are open to anyone!
Whenever we're learning something
you don't know yet, you're invited."
Armelle looked at Embry, who
still had her feet on the tiny prints
instead of reaching for the handle
or the colorful control buttons.
"All right, we'll try it your way," said Armelle.
* * *
"Any idea, plan, or purpose may be placed in the mind through repetition of thought."
-- Napolean Hill
All children get lost sometimes, and panic makes it worse instead of better. It is vital that adults and children understand what to do when someone gets lost. Coping with this annoyance is part of developing your life skills, although some people may need different techniques for it than others.
Panic attacks may come from traumatic stress. Understand how to calm yourself or help someone else through a panic attack. There are different challenges depending whether the fear does or does not have an identifiable cause.
While people in mainstream culture tend to view autism only as a disability, in fact it has many advantages. In a society of neurovariant folks, it is the neurotypical ones likely to be viewed as somehow lacking -- for example, incapable of memorizing or repeating a precise routine, dilettantes who can't learn a topic with any real depth, prone to chattering with friends instead of doing their work, etc.
Stacking and sorting toys offer multiple benefits for children. Browse some toys in this category. I favor wooden toys for children, but here I'm focusing on metal and plastic because that's mostly what they have on a space station.
I like to look for a xylophone that has at least eight keys, with each note a different color, to help learn scales.
Stacking bowls, especially if color-coded, help children learn about amounts and proportions. This is especially true if you use them for pouring water, sand, or some other substance.
Teaching how children learn is crucial for younger and older students if you want them to love learning and actually remember what you present. Otherwise both the experience and the results tend to be poor. This is true even for neurotypical people, as there are many types of intelligence that people use to learn. Teachers should understand how to use different techniques in class to help all their students learn the material. In short, Darmid is a genius and they are extremely lucky to have someone who can design an effective educational approach for the Lacuna.