By Teresa Colby, Bloomington Reframing Instructor
Reframing Class is the first class of the morning for most CIP students. Reframing is a term that therapists use to describe the process in which a person converts the thoughts and feelings around a negative situation into a positive pathway for change. Reframing identifies the strengths and values of a behavior and readjusts the thinking process so that the person is better able to recognize the positive and successful outcomes of the behavior.
CIP’s yearly theme for reframing is designed to help students with Asperger’s and non-verbal learning disorders understand that they are inherently valuable and made for a good purpose. Reframing allows students to learn how to reframe their perspective and take an active role in creating and defining their own happiness; our students have as many strengths and values as any other college student.
One of the first steps in reframing is to know yourself, to recognize your strengths and weaknesses and how you create your values based on those strengths and weaknesses. These are difficult concepts for students with Asperger’s and learning differences to grasp, because the concepts are often abstract and require metacognition and self-awareness. To help understand and identify these concepts, visual representation of the self serves as a springboard for discussion and communication.
In Reframing Class, the students made framed panels that visually represent how they perceive themselves. Students were given free choice in mediums and encouraged to think abstractly and symbolically about themselves, rather than produce a simple mirror representation of the self. The students also wrote explanations of their panels. Below are the words that CIP students Kiersten and Dustin wrote to accompany their self-imagery.
I chose a horse to represent myself because horses are kind, strong, they work hard and they help people with their lives. I think I am all of these things as well. These are what I most value.
This is a self-portrait of me sleeping on the floor. I put myself relaxed and stretched out, but in reality, I have all these things going on in my head: Thoughts and interests like science, medicine, math, music, nature, cars, guitars, drawing, writing, swords, shields and honor. The world outside my thoughts contains random things pertaining to my life, like animals, friends that I study with, water bottles, my computer and my family.