Sunday, January 03, 2010

Words

The other day, I sat down at the computer and found an open Word document with the following list:
1234567891020100
George
Daddy
Emma
momy
car
stop
go
AJ (teacher's name, Hi AJ!)
camp
on
off
tomas
daddy
tran (train)
cat
dog

For the last few years, I've been watching the slightly older, autistic sons of friends, marveling over their accomplishments and wondering where, academically, George would fit in as he grew. I'd see pictures of Simon reading, and think, "Will George read?" I'd grade papers from Emma's classmate, Sam, and think, "Will George write?" I'd have conversations with Garrett and think, "Will we be able to have real conversations with George someday?"

Intellectually, I knew that someday, yes. Of course he would do all those things; in his own time, in his own way.

One of the aspects of having a kid with Autism that I love most (yes, there are many things that are lovable about Autism) is found within George's developmental delays. I think it's fairly common that the natural developments of any second child tend to be overlooked. The first child's every move, change, growth is noticed and documented. The next child? Not so much.

But then a child with Autism comes along and each move, change, and growth is late. And because it's late, it's noticed when it does show up.

The other day I realized that in addition to the "yes/no" answers I was getting to my questions, George would follow those up with an explanation. No big deal to some, but to us? Huge. When I saw him go into the kitchen the other day, I asked him if he was getting a snack. As expected, he answered, "yes" and I went back to what I was doing. But then, a moment later, I heard him say, "I'm just getting a granola bar, Mom." Aside from the fact that he was getting a snack without asking first, I was thrilled, and it made me realize that he's been giving me explanations like this for a couple of months now. For any other six year old, that might be no big deal, but for a kid who often needs "scripts" to use in communication, this spontaneous speech makes me forgive him for his snack-sneaking!

Earlier today he asked me, "What are you doing [with] Daddy's tools, Mom?" "Hanging a mirror," I replied. "Why are you hanging a mirror, Mom?" "To replace the one that broke, Buddy." "Why did [the] mirror broke, Mom?" This type of never-ending back and forth may sound familiar to parents of toddlers, but it's new for us. Conversation, real conversation.

George isn't reading yet, though there are some words he recognizes if he takes the time to focus on them. Instead, he's writing. That list was his. He had opened the Word program himself, set the font to size 24 as he prefers, and written a list of words. All by himself. And his favorite game during this school break is sounding out words, letter by letter. He's fascinated by that process. It's only a matter of time before he realizes that he can both break the words apart and then put them back together. Reading. It's coming; in his own way, in his own time.

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28 comments:

Beth said...

As the mother of a two, you are correct that the second child is often overlooked. And my "typical" girl is amazing me. Once I made the effort to let her!

Congrats to George. He sounds like he has grown so much!

Melanie said...

Oh Meg, that is fantastic!!! Ack! I am thrilled over this ... just hug George for me ... he so much deserves it. My second born, Liam, who has speech apraxia is breaking new grounds himself. Words coming out a mile a minute and most of them I do understand! And what is more amazing is that others understand him too! Sounds like we both had a rather good holiday, huh?

Tanya @ TeenAutism said...

What wonderful progress for George! That is so great! As I've said about Nigel, autism will delay him, but it will not stop him. And we are here to cheer them on!

lonestar said...

That is awesome! I kwym about noticing every little thing when it has been so waited for...

I had to smile about the snack-sneaking, Bearhug does that a LOT. How cool that he added that extra explanation. And I love his list :)

Cinda said...

And...most importantly, you notice all the tiny steps and celebrate! Thank you for this posting!

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Claire Tyler-Smith said...

I'm a 5th Grade teacher from South Africa and that list of words just about made me cry.

Thank you for sharing. You've made an instant follower out of me.

Claire Tyler-Smith
http://ourgradefiveclass.blogspot.com

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