Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Deafness meets Autism

Last night in the tub, Andrew was playing..I was involved the current edition of Living Without. He wanted to get my attention and he said, "mom. look. MOM! LOOK!! MOOOMMMMM! How do I say 'look' in sign language." This is just one example where autism meets deafness. With a cochlear implant Andrew can hear..most of the time. But in the bathtub, he can not. But he assumes, in his mind, that since he can't hear, no one else can either... so he thinks to get my attention he has to sign it. BUT..taking that one step further.. you can't SIGN to a deaf person "look" because..well.. they aren't looking! So it is like inside out ..upside down...lack of perspective taking...

Let me know YOUR thoughts..on ASL or 'sign' for autism and how it works or doesn't for you. Andrew never really 'took' to sign even though I still THINK in ASL sometimes thanks to a great teacher. You need to reference another person in order to learn sign. This is one reason I think the implant has worked really well for Andrew- it does not require visual referencing. Although he is a visual explain THAT one to me!! Andrew is just now expressing an interest and I do believe that counts as a second language!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Successes and working in the ZPD

I have had writers / bloggers 'cramp' for about four months now. You do the math. But I've really been blessed with some great God moments in the midst of the storms. Take this morning... We are reading a Christian Liberty Press science book on crabs. I found a lapbook online based on the Eric Carle book "House for a Hermit Crab." One of the exercises was reading about the wise and foolish builders in Luke 6. (ie: crabs make their houses in sand and rocks..segue to the Bible.) I read it without interruption and asked Andrew what he thought it meant. Without delay he says....well the rock is Jesus and the storms are the troubles in life. And there was more discussion that followed.

Andrew also has such a giving heart. The kid, like all kids, wants STUFF! (Heck..i want stuff. I just bought myself a belated Christmas gift this year.) I was doing the Dave Ramesy 'spend save give' program with Andrew but we stopped allowance for awhile. He found fifty cents and asked if he could have it and I told him yes. So....he gives me a quarter and then puts the other quarter in his give envelope. What a wonderful heart!

Andrew has most of his difficulties....emotionally and practically...with math. But I have recently found that when we take it very very slow and joke along the way, he does so well. I mention this for folks that homeschool and those that don't. If math is a struggle..find a way to make it SUCCESSFUL. Do one or two problems instead of one or two pages. And work on the concept to understanding before moving on. This is a major blessing of homeschooling... There is no need to rush ahead. You work in the zone of proximal development.

I pulled out a worksheet book on third grade language arts this week. We haven't studied formally much in LA. I was pleasantly surprised at how well he did! He was missing however, something we DID study formally: capitalization. I believe that the reason is that when we studied it, he was barely writing his capital letters. Even though he had mastered the concept at 100% when I did the writing, it was lost because he was not able to write it down. He finds language art study tedious and do I. But if I shorten it by having him edit, vs do all the writing, and make it fun and interesting.... it becomes more enjoyable. Here is a picture of one page we did today to cement the concept of proper and common noun capitalization rules. Other language arts concepts just seemed to have been learned by osmosis. Another blessing.

Another concept was also mastered this week because we were in the 'zone.' We have a pen pal and that has been wonderful for developing fine motor and seeing a connection for WHY we need to practice our writing. Andrew has two new favorite books from the library: Ladybug Girl and Naked Mole Rat Gets dressed. He took it upon himself to write the authors a letter asking them to make tv shows of these books. He found an address in the back of the book, addressed the envelope, wrote the letter, asked for a stamp... and off to the post office it went. I call that learnin'!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

What's Your Italy?

Most parents of special needs kids have read Welcome to Holland. I typically write on this blog about what we are doing in the area of academics and life, but while doing the dishes I was thinking about friends who are going to Italy this summer with their kids. I can't imagine getting on a plane to go to Florida, let alone Italy, but as in Welcome to Holland, we have our own Italy! This summer we are going to Oscoda and renting a cottage with friends. We are also going to a Joni and Friends Camp! To me, both of these are Italy. They are something I have dreamed of doing for a long time and finally doing. I am looking forward to them with the same expecatation as my friends going to Italy. So...what's YOUR Italy?? And I'm not talking about vacations here only! What is something you are looking forward to...something that may not seem 'big' but are BIG for you and your family. Something you have dreamed of and are doing.. big or smal.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Crazy Math

This is called Crazy Math. Actually I have to constantly invent new and different ways to get in our math practice. I know, I could beat him over the head with a stick and tell him to 'do it or else,' but that would never ever ever work! We'd both end up screaming. A few days ago, I wrote math problems on pieces of paper and had him answer to the trampoline..jump 10 times...and come back and get two more. Other times we have created level games...such as in a computer game...I will start out on level one which is very simple addition and work up to level 10 that includes more difficult addition and subtraction. I was able to get him to do 10 worksheets with that little trick! Today I used a new pack of 'smelly markers.' I was amazed at the speed with which he completed this little drill. The paper was a complete mess when he was done; however, it was 99% right. I wasn't going for neatness on this one. These ideas must come from God because I am not creative. That trait belongs to my boys! But I'm thankful for the idea bursts that come when needed.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Do You Follow Directions?

Our library (Bloomfield Township) opened a new special needs section. It is very nice and they have many books for both parents and for children. In addition they have games, speech flash cards and other 'stuffs' that are used by many families with special needs. Autism is well covered there. Deafness is covered as well however I would love to see some additional selections for the 'oral' side of those with a hearing impairment. Most of the selections they have focus on sign only. (I have given suggestions but feel free to send your own.)

Here is one of the games we found in the new selection. The idea is to find the 'shape' that fits the hole by feeling for it in a bag. Never one to follow directions, we decided to use this for 'story time.' We would pick one item from the bag, start a story with that item and pass the bag to the next person to tell the next 'part' of the story. I originally saw this exercise at a Rebecca Klaw presentation where she demonstrated it with adults. There are various ways to add on / complicate this by telling players they had to give the next person a 'transition' for their item or by finishing round one and then saying that you had to tell a new story 'in reverse' starting with the person who ended the first round. Adults actually have a hard time with this type of fun! It drags you out of your comfort zone.

If you don't have a special needs section in your library consider asking that they start even a small one. And you can always ask your library to order books even if they dont have a selection specifically dedicated to special needs.

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