Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Authentic Chinese Food

When I was in New York one time, the menu at the Chinese Restaurant that we visited was not the same as any I had ever seen before.  I love Chinese Food--at least the version of it that I know.  In this restaurant, however, we were the only non-Chinese looking people in the building and that seemed like a good thing until we saw the menu.  It was in Chinese. We asked the waiter to translate menu items--which he did but way too rapidly for me to comprehend. At that point, each of us moved on to choose one of the  two or three items that sounded vaguely familiar or we randomly ordered by pointing at something on the page.  I am adventurous and ordered pretty randomly.  Others in my family went for more familiar sounding stuff.  Even these items were nothing like food that they had had before.  I did not actually like my meal very much nor did anyone in my family. The new tastes were too unfamiliar to my palate and visually things looked strange to me.  I assume that if I were to live in China for a while and the dish that I tried was frequently served, I might have come to like it. What is it, something like twelve times that you need to taste something before you learn to like new things?  I remember this experience when kids back quickly away from new games and activities that I introduce. I think of this as an Authentic Chinese Food event.

The more unfamiliar elements in a game that I introduce, the faster kids reject my bid to play together.  If I manage to sandwich new elements of play into familiar games, this makes it easier for children to try new things--so I do this quite often.  I use video models (video clips that show a child the new game) to introduce some new games because this really helps us get to that point that is like tasting a new food for the tenth time and you are at least able to tolerate it. If I put things that a child loves into new games--well this can go either way--sometimes it help a child enjoy the new game and sometimes the child reacts the way I would if you put an unfamiliar Chinese ingredient into my favorite desert.  Covering new ground with a child who has autism, (which is usually the point in a therapy session), is quite a tricky proposition.


Paulene Angela said...

You're right, generally us humans are creatures of habit. MacDonalds Restaurant chain certainly has tapped in on this aspect, among other important factors, i.e. eating with your hands.

New games, makes sense to ween in a new game, otherwise some children will rapidly retreat to their comfort zone.

PS Food looks yummy, plenty of vegetables.

Sue said...

Hi my name is Sue and I am a special education teacher in Victoria Australia. I have just spent hours looking through your blog and your website. You and your work are amazing! I will come back and visit often and spread the word about what a great resource you are!

Tahirih said...

Sue, Thanks for your encouragement! It is lovely to think of people so far away using ideas from the website.

Paulene, the picture does look pretty tasty but as I remember the restaurant, it was the sauces that were particularly unfamiliar and hot. I like a little heat but whatever I had was tears in your eyes hot.