Thursday, April 19, 2012

Tootsie Pops, talent and a special needs reality check

Sabrina recently learned about Tootsie Pops in school. Her teacher sent an email explaining that she'd be using the lollipops to help kids understand what people see when they look at them. As she wrote,

"Everyone has something valuable inside that we might not see at first. The 'soft center' of people represents what we all have in common: feelings, hopes, dreams, fears, and insecurities. To feel safe and protected, people often use a hard outside to hide their soft core. However, a tough outer shell may prevent others from getting to know what is truly special about us. Making the effort to get to know what makes someone special on the inside helps us learn, grow and practice being good friends."

Hmmm, I thought. Interesting! And so creative.

Next thought: I wish Max could learn about stuff like that. As I hear about the social and life lessons Sabrina's picking up at school, I sometimes get wistful that Max isn't yet at that level of comprehension. If I tried to explain the imagery of hard on the outside/soft on the inside to him, it would go over his head.

That, I thought, was a Max issue. A cognitive delay. One of his things.

Then I had a little chat with Sabrina at bedtime.

"Sabrina," I asked, "what did you learn about Tootsie Pops today?"

"Oh! That they come in lots of colors!" she said.


"I got the chocolate one!" she added, excitedly.


"OK, but what did you learn about how Tootsie Pops and people are alike?"

"That they look like a person because they have, like, a big head!" she said.

And that was all I could get out of her.

Clearly, Sabrina hadn't absorbed that lesson, and this is a child with no known cognitive delays. In fact, she's pretty bright. In fact, Max is pretty bright, too.

All kids learn at their own pace: I know that, I do. I'm also aware that it does me (and the kids) no good to compare the way they learn or the way the two of them do anything, although sometimes I just can't help myself.

It took a lollipop lesson to remind me.



  1. I love this story. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I love your writing. Thanks for this.

  3. I'm not used to working with anyone under 3, so I frequently wonder if my son should already know "how to do that"! It's so easy to forget that kids all learn at a different pace and that doesn't mean they're not bright! As always you are spot on!

  4. Just wanted you to know I love your blog!

  5. Sabrina's teacher is so wise a lot of adults could do with learning the lesson she was trying her students :)

  6. I love the analogy and I also love that Sabrina came up with her own insights into Tootsie Pops!!!

    I think the analogy might be better understood among older children.

  7. Aww! I love the analogy but it's not surprising that it didn't sink in for Sabrina--Tootsie pops are so distractingly delicious! :P

  8. That's funny as all get out. Here I'm reading along and waiting for the Oprah Ah Ha moment, and you sound like you are describing MY family!

    Hey, sometimes the big lesson is "I got the chocolate one" and "People have BIG HEADS"--I know I've met a few insufferable people with big heads lately, and I'd love a chocolate tootsie pop right about now!

  9. This is too funny! Having been a teacher myself, it's just amazing how often you think "Wow! That was a great lesson I just taught! That one will really stick in their minds!" only to discover the kids got something totally different - exactly like Sabrina shared! :)


Thanks for sharing!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...