Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Head Skin Eater In Japanese Special Education Class

I teach a special education class in the Japanese junior high school that I am at now. In fact I teach 2 special education classes and 2 special needs classes. I love it. I love the kids, I love the activities and think highly of the program to introduce English to these wonderful children.

Today I had a class with two of the severely disabled students. They have severe mental impairment and I have grown accustomed to their little quirks that make them unique. One boy, let's call him K-kun, he as atopic dermatitis called アトピー (atopy) here in Japan. Well he constantly wants you to scratch him. He will walk over to you and produce an arm, leg, neck or head and ask you to scratch it for him. I have gotten used this and sometimes I'll rub his head or something but usually I don't do it. I feel sorry for him because atopic dermatitis is hellish for children, especially one with a mental impairment.

Well the other student, let's call him R-kun, he is a nice little boy who is a tad bit more capable than K-kun when it comes to talking and communicating. He can respond and can pronounce words and so on. K-kun tries but he just doesn't have the ability but he gets a huge A for effort.
Anyway R-kun had band-aids covering all of his finger tips because he likes to chew the skin on his fingers. He will chew them until they bleed and it creates a huge mess not to mention makes his fingers look like they've been through a meat grinder. Lucky for us, today he was not in the finger chewing mood.

Instead, while we were trying to teach the two boys the song "Jingle Bells" R-kun kept scratching his scalp with his band-aid covered fingers. He was digging at his head (which is nearly bald due to a close scalp shaving) at a ferocious pace. As soon as you told him "ダメ” he'd stop, but in the next instant he'd be back at it.

I watched him closely for a few minutes and figured out what it was that was causing him to scratch his head so vigorously. He was trying to harvest scalp skin so he could eat it. I guess he had some dandruff or something like that, and he was scratching like a cat in a washing machine at his head. As soon as he got some skin, he'd quickly pop it into his mouth, band-aid fingers and all and start munching on it. It shocked the crap out of me. I mean I had seen some pretty strange things happening in that class, but this topped the cake.

Eventually we got R-kun to stop by putting in "Back to the Future II" so he could watch it. He loves movies so we typically spend half the class watching English movies. We finished Back to the Future II in that class, and so we started part III. We'll finish it and hopefully we'll get to watch "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas" the animated series for our next week's class.

R-kun and K-kun are two of the greatest kids but they sure take the energy out of you. And their homeroom teacher looks like a pale ghost of a woman. She's constantly got to be with them and the only time she gets a break is when the English or Math teachers come to teach a lesson. I feel sorry for her.

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