Ten Things Every Child With Autism Wishes You Knew: Part 6– I am Visual

26 01 2008

This is the sixth  part of of my series from the book I recently read. It’s Ten Things Every Child With Autism Wishes You Knew  by  Ellen Notbohm. The following is from the article by the same name:

Because language is so difficult for me, I am very visually oriented.  Please show me how to do something rather than just telling me.  And please be prepared to show me many times.  Lots of consistent repetition helps me learn.

 A visual schedule is extremely helpful as I move through my day.  Like your day-timer, it relieves me of the stress of having to remember what comes next, makes for smooth transition between activities, helps me manage my time and meet your expectations.  Here’s a great website for learning more about visual schedules: www.cesa7.k12.wi.us/sped/autism/structure/str11.htm. We figured out the visual learner several years ago when we stumbled upon the Rock and Learn series– Letters & Letter Sounds and Phonics were our first two. J spent hours watching how the mouth on the video formed the sound and– he learned how to make the sounds! It was the first step toward talking… We did have some disagreement with J’s speech therapist who didn’t think TV was good for him– but, we’re the parents and she didn’t live with us so we won! (She was wonderful and we’d still be with her if we hadn’t moved.)

TV, in my opinion is a tremendous tool for communication and learning.  We’ve always been pretty careful about what he watches– fortunately he isn’t interested in stuff that wouldn’t be good for him.  On the few occasions when we saw behavior changes in him like when he was watching Samurai Jack– we removed it from his repertoire and order was restored.  Also, J turns on the subtitles and reads along with with the movie. I realize that some of it is memorizing but he has learned a lot of “bigger” words as a result of context within a movie’s scene. Anyway– do with this as you will but it is our belief that TV (more specifically movies) have been good for our J.

We just brought back visual schedules. I’m no artist– and J reads well so, I make a to-do list rather than a picture schedule for after school until bedtime.  I attach a sheet of stickers to it so he can mark each item as complete and, if all things are done, he gets two stickers on his chore list (good for a prize on Saturday morning if he has all his stickers and/or bonus stickers. It works really well for J.

We’ve also found that at the early on set of a meltdown– when he isn’t listening anymore and is becoming more and more frustrated we can dissipate the situation with a written not explaining in very simple terms what we are trying to tell him.

Please share some of your tricks– what works for you as far as visual communication? I’d also welcome you to leave comments on the other sections of this series to share what your experience has been and what has worked for you.

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J lost a tooth yesterday

8 12 2007

J smile tooth

J is amazing– he surprises me all the time.

He got off the bus yesterday with a tooth in his hand. He was so excited! “Mom! Look my tooth!” We went inside and put it in an envelope on which he wrote “tooth fairy” and he ran it to his room and put it under his pillow.

My dilema– what’s the tooth fairy going to put under his pillow? He doesn’t understand cash. Everything is a “million dollars.” He hates brushing his teeth so maybe I could use this as an opportunity to get him to do it without the physical fight. A new toothbrush with the character du jour might work… but, I’ve already tried that a “million” times…

He needs a new backpack but, what’s the fun of that? He loves DVDs– especially special features which he watches over and over and over…  but, if I give him a DVD we’ll have issues getting him out the door for school. He loves to read… but, I think he’s moved on from the Fraggles and that’s all I’ve got on hand.

I could go out and buy another but, there’s nobody close by to watch him and trips to the store are not fun… I never know what to expect with his behavior and how the people around us will react to him. Sometimes you wish you could carry around a sign that says– Don’t stare at my kid. He can’t help it!… He’s not a bad kid! He’s autistic!

I finally settled on raiding the Christmas stash… He got a book, didn’t care about it. He got toothpaste that he gave his Dad. He got a backpack that he actually seemed to like– Buzz Lightyear… He surprises me.

I learn from J all the time.

I underestimate him all the time.

I am ashamed that I don’t give him enough credit. I make excuses for him a lot and it’s not fair– to either of us.

Autism isn’t fair.