What’s age appropriate? This seems to be a huge discussion in our field. Especially since many of our older students seem to enjoy tv shows and toys that are clearly geared towards younger students.
One phrase that I’ve heard a lot lately is “age respectful.” This means presenting our students with materials and activities that are appropriate to their age (i.e. an adapted Harry Potter book instead of Brown Bear) while still allowing them to choose items and activities they enjoy.
Yesterday my mom bought SpongeBob stickers for her brother because she thought he would get a kick out of them. He did! And he’s in his 50s with no cognitive impairments! But if I brought in a pack of SpongeBob stickers to school knowing some of my older students might think they were funny, I’d be called out for not being “age appropriate.”
I’m all about presenting our students with items that their typically developing peers have access to. But shouldn’t we also have materials that we know they love and want to choose? Shouldn’t we respect their choices? I could watch Frozen tonight and though you might judge me, you wouldn’t tell me I’m not being age appropriate!
We need to start reminding ourselves that we all enjoy things that are not always age appropriate. My mom loves Hello Kitty – seriously anytime she passes something with Hello Kitty she is compelled to buy it! I love Disney/Pixar movies! My brother still gets a kick out of watching Land Before Time. My dad watches Saturday morning cartoons. Nobody tells us we’re too old for these things. Why do we tell our students they are?