Inferring

As a language and literature person, I have taken for granted the ability to infer from text something deeper. My son, Will, is not this way. I have struggled to pull out of him thoughts about deeper bits from characters' lives, thoughts, and emotions.

He prefers omniscient narrations in stories because everything is given. He doesn't have to think about extras that aren't obvious. We can't just skate by in life with only the information in front of us, though. We must learn to read between the lines and put ourselves in others' shoes. I often ask him how he would think, feel, and act were he in the position the characters are. He has a vivid imagination, so he does ok. Sometimes the situations are so different from what he has experienced, or he can't relate. So we have to get a little creative.

We discuss what the characters did in the story. Facts. It is all right there. To infer, we must address the why. We talk about many possible reasons for different actions. We talk in context of the book or movie, and in regard to real life. "Why did you get more water?" "Because you were thirsty". "Why did that character crash onto the ground and sleep for 10 hours?" "Because he had just hiked 18 miles over rough terrain without a break." Sometimes, the why is obvious. Others why is hidden. "Why did she turn around and leave the house before even going inside?" In these instances, we must examine what else is going on behind the scenes. Who lives in the house? Did the house change in some way? Did she realize she had forgotten her key, or something else? Did she see something she didn't like? Most of the questions will be answered in the text you read prior, or will read soon. Jot down the curiosity. Don't forget you wondered. Look back through the pages, and ahead a bit to see what else is going on with, around, in the house and girl.

Practicing this daily with real world occurrences, and in stories will help strengthen the skill in general. Inferring is not something that comes naturally to all of us. Those with autism will likely struggle with it more. There is hope and help, though. Practice makes progress. Here is a site with more information and exercises for practice. https://www.literacyideas.com/teaching-inference

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