Tag Archives: autistic

Spelling

My autistic 7 year old has been surprising all of us lately with his perfect handwriting and the spelling and reading of really big words – especially for a kiddo his age who just became fully potty-trained two weeks ago.  Here’s a sample:

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Sorry about the quality, but you can see his perfect, tiny letters.  I don’t know adults who can write that well!

His favorite game is to write words on paper after paper, then ask, “What does (fill in the blank) start with?”  He already knows, but if you know about autism, you probably also know that a lot of questions are ones to which they already know the answer.  It’s a form of mimicking a behavior that is safe, if that makes sense?  Anyway, the “game” evolves into, “how do you spell (fill in the blank).”

The funny thing is, this game does not usually work in reverse.  Meaning, if I go up to him and ask him to spell a word, more often than not, he will tell me no.  Or, he won’t answer the question, but will instead throw one back of his own.

Last week during dinner, his nearly 17 year old stepsister asked, “Isaac, how do you spell Isaac?”

Isaac, “Um…. no.”

Stepsister, “Isaac, how do you spell Isaac?”

Isaac, “No.”

Stepsister, “Isaac, how do you spell Isaac?”

Isaac, “How do you spell no?”

Of course, we were roaring with laughter.  And he was not even trying to be funny, making these games of his that much more entertaining.

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Parenting/Teaching the Special Needs Child

Also posted on my other site: Homeschooling the Minds of Tomorrow

I have seven children, two of whom are autistic: my 14 year old and my 3.5 year old. My homeschooling journey actually began with my oldest and my lack of confidence in the public school system to meet his needs and protect him. I found that as a family, those needs and protection were better met. Of course we struggled, but I never regretted the choice of having him/them home. We all schooled together, through the good and bad and all the changes of life.

My greatest challenge is finding a math program and reading comprehension program that is not to overwhelming. He can read and understand quite well; it’s how he spends all his free time! But to extract that knowledge in written question and answer form is a struggle for him. So I have him do what he can math wise (we use Teaching Textbooks). He reads alone and we discuss what he’s read together, using the given questions as more of a guide for me rather than a worksheet for him.

My 3 year old is not necessarily school age yet, although he would qualify because of his autism for part time preschool, should I choose to place him. Regardless of how rigorous his schoolwork or learning time is, he does need something to keep him little mind active.

He is very sweet and also quite gentle with his 7 week old sister. But with other children, he wants to play and doesn’t know how. He pushes and hits in excitement and in what he believes is play. But it’s not and other kids are quickly turned off and don’t want him around. It breaks my heart to see this and to scold him when another child is hurt. He simply doesn’t understand. And because communication is at a very minimum, I cannot effectively tell him he’s not playing, but hurting.

Autistic children oftentimes seem stronger because they cannot gauge their own strength and lack control of how much force or ease they must use. For this child of mine, the best thing is to remove him completely from the other kids for a bit. He’s having fun but they are not. So until the adrenaline of my son and the frustration from the others wears off, separation is best. I hate doing this. But it’s also for everyone’s safety, unfortunately.

Another thing that helps is to have activities for him. He likes lining up number cards. God forbid, however, someone disrupts the line! He also likes books in a quiet, safe space. He enjoys letters the most. Being outside where he can run wild without injury to himself or others is vital. But sometimes a walk in the fresh air is all he needs. Adequate sleep, a proper nap schedule, use of essential oils, and avoidance of certain foods also help. And as much safe hands on activities as possible. Yes, this can all be very draining. But it’s what he needs now. And as his parent, I know this better than any teacher or therapist because it is I who am with him throughout all times of the day and different scenarios. I’m not perfect and I do lose patience, but I’m learning to take each day at a time.

Matthew 6:34 – Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.


Breathe…

Also posted on my other site: Homeschooling the Minds of Tomorrow

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I sat in the waiting room of the doctor’s office today with my 38 week belly, my five, three and one year old. A little boy and his brother sat at the coloring table where my five and three year old took a seat also. The little boy was the same age: three and a half, and his little brother was maybe six months older than my 16 month old. The little boy chatted politely to my three year old, asking him questions, etc. He asked his little brother if he could have a crayon, and the little tot nodded.  I wished so badly at that moment that my little boy could respond to his peer, or to his siblings or me. I felt a pain in me as he suddenly jumped up from the table and began to wander about, seemingly oblivious to anyone else in the room. The other little boy seemed upset that my son wasn’t responding, so I just said to him,  “You talk so well and you’re so sweet with your little brother!” After a long day of tantrums and meltdowns, I sat at the table to color. I needed to just breathe and unwind. Little boy sat quietly with me, as though he needed the same.

My three year old can be very sweet and gentle at times. He sleeps snuggled up against me almost every night. He tries so hard to communicate in his own complicated babble. He repeats the only thing he knows we both understand: his alphabet. He can say a few phrases, but letters, and to a lesser degree, numbers, is what he feels is his connection with us. But he gets frustrated very fast. He throws things, throws himself, screams, head butts and hits me. And it doesn’t matter what I say or do at that point…

I was telling a family member about how sweet he is and yet how difficult it can be, and that nearly every day I have to keep myself from bursting into tears. He asked if it was because he drove me  crazy and made me happy all at the same time. I said, “No.  Because I can’t reach him and he can’t reach me.”

Sometimes I let him play an alphabet game on my iPad. I have to be watchful and careful because he can easily get upset and throw it. But today I heard the craziest thing! He sat looking at a book and saw the letter “A.” He said to himself “A, a, a.” Then made the short a sound three times. Followed by, “Apple, alligator, ant.  An alligator has an apple. An ant eats the apple.” Word for word, from the alphabet app on my iPad. I had never heard him say this many coherent words together before. He had memorized many of the letter ditties from the game and sat saying them to himself.

I have a relative with a non verbal autistic 9 year old who uses an iPad like device to communicate with her parents and care givers. I also have come across others who use them for their children as well. However, they are all much older than mine. I would give anything to be able to communicate with my son and ease his frustrations. My only concern is, would such a device at this age hinder him from learning to speak?

I know my son is very smart. I can see the gears turning in his head. I cannot imagine how frustrating it is to not be understood, except I know how frustrating it is as the parent to not be able to reach your child.

I would love to hear from others who have experience with these devices!