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Adrian and School

This year my son started First Grade, turned Eight years old,  and started his old stuttering habit again.

Adrian has always been a child of cycles. One month he is a child who adores and can not get enough of Thomas the Train, the next it is all about Phineas and Ferb, The next it’s Dora and Boots. These changes have always been boggleing to me. I have a child who absolutley hated transistions but moves with ease from one interest to the next every couple of days weeks or months.

I often thought this might be a prelude to the often misunderstood BiPolar disorder. After all he was diagnosed with Mood Disorder along with ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorder and PDD-NOS. Not long after Epilepsy too. The more I read though the more these cycling interests appear to be “normal” to children on the Spectrum.

When he is in a cycle it is all about that subject. He will speak nonstop about whatever his interest is at that moment. We will hear echolalia from whichever show he is Perseverating on or he will hum a tune from the theme or run around saying “Would You Like A Muffin” to everyone he meets. For those of you who do not know this is a direct Quote from the movie Phineas and Ferb Across the 2nd Demension. He sings a certain song from Walle or says things from Dora. Earlier today he was playing the Simpson’s Arcade game on his iPad and said “Whose in that Robot costume” and the Spanish word for watch out I believe. That’s exactly what Dora would say.

These cycling moods have followed him into school. His Special Education Teacher and I had a phone conference yesterday and she was talking about Adrian’s cycling moods and interests. I have told every teacher he has had that he has cycling moods and Interests. He has since I can remember. Anyways she was the first one to ever acknowledge this as fact, EVER. Any other person always claimed they didn’t notice or said nothing. I know I’m not crazy and I know my child so how they couldn’t notice I don’t understand. I think they may have been trying to spare my feelings and hide the truth that this is Autism.

We did not get Adrian’s official diagnosis until the end of his three years in ECSE in May of 2010. It’s been two years. Adrian has made great strides. He is able to transistion from his General ed classroom to his Resource room. He uses the Resource room for Writing and Math. He is in a peer group of three other Second grade boys doing Second grade math also. The school is planning to try to get an iPad for Adrian to use by himself at school. They hope to do Writing and peer interaction with the iPad. I have some reservations about an iPad being used for peer interactions. Here at home he is the master of his iPad. He is very protective of it and of himself being the one who gets to use it. I have requested that he let Jade borrow it so that she can read an ebook on it. That was not well received. He was able to sit and wait for 15 minutes with little fidgeting. That’s a great accomplishment for him. The last 10 minutes were a nightmare of him yelling and whining for his iPad. I am not sure how well he would share with a peer. If they are not able to purchase an iPad I offered to possibly send his in with him. This comes with other risks of it getting lost, stolen, or broken. I think he could benefit from using an iPad for writing. That is what we bought it for in the first place. He loves iwritewords!  I need to purchase Microsoft Office for his iPad so he can create word documents. I would love to put my Social Stories book by Carol Gray to good use and write social stories for him that he can access too. I just haven’t got there yet.

It is my plan to work on the iPad with Adrian over the summer, toilet train, and pencil work. I expect to be posting often about our hopefully successful experiences.

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A Social Story about substitute teachers.

Talking…

For the last month or so I have been receiving notes in Adrian’s back pack. When I received the first one I thought it might be about Adrian not sharing playground equipment again. His school has just put in a fantastic new attraction. A spinning seat he calls the bucket. I had know idea the new playground even had one until I started receiving notes about Adrian’s inability to share the spinning seat. Adrian has the most severe case of Autism at his school from what I have been told. That being said he also has SPD. He could spin in a chair all day long and not get dizzy. One of the many reasons why we no longer own a spinning computer chair. Playground equipment like this will be a favorite for him. Spinning is one of his favorite things and always calms him down.

Upon receiving these notes I started discussing with Adrian reasons why we need to share. I told my son that if he left other children out and did not give them a turn he would make them sad. We discussed, as much as you can with a child who has Autism, how to make friends and that bad decisions have consequences. He would lose a recess privilege because not only was he not sharing he was also refusing to come inside when the bell had rung. That he needed to make a good decision. He does not like to lose privileges and caught on quickly. He also moved to a different playground obsession…

The merry go round. He lost a baby tooth last week when he got ran over by it. Now he has an odd smile. These notes were about neither of the play ground equipment though. They were notes that every mother who has had a non verbal child dreams of or at least I have. Adrian has been talking in class. Oh yeah his speech has grown by leaps and bounds since September. Believe me both the husband and I have noticed. Apparently so have Adrian’s teachers. I have received several messages that Adrian is talking in class so much that he is disrupting himself and others. I have been happy. Although I can see how his teachers would not be. We have seen him talk more than he ever has here at home too. Yesterday I took a nap and when I woke up 1.5 hours later my husband was excited! Adrian did something he had not done before. He said excuse me dad I am hungry. He does not ask to eat. He simply goes to the cupboard and grabs what he wants or if he needs help he will start shrieking. Even at 7 with three years of ECSE and Kindergarten speech therapy he shrieks until I come to him then he will say a word usually it’s pretzels sometimes he says gluten free pretzels. He is a kid that does not know how to use the words he has to speak. Lately he has been telling me about how to create a sentence and what he thinks a sentence is. He will use partial sentences sometimes and whole sentences other times. He has the language but there is often a disconnect.

When the husband started to tell me this I immediately started to think about Adrian’s developing speech usage and how we could use the iPad he will get for Christmas to develop his speech further. I am quite excited! We found out he started using an iPad in speech this September. When I took him to the store and he saw an iPad on display he said look mom it’s an iPad. I never knew he has seen one before but he said he uses one with his speech therapist at school.

I think that iPad might be the cause of his recent language and talking skills. He is telling everyone he can about the games he plays at home and how to play them. We do not force him to interact with us in our home. He has a choice to do so. A lot of the time he chooses video or computer games. They make sense to him. Still I don’t want him to get lost in his own world so we try to join him in his. We listen to him tell us about what game he is playing and how he plays it. When he asks his dad to play with him the husband does so willingly. We have to connect with him in the ways he shows us to as well as trying to get him to connect with us in our ways. I think it is wonderful that he wants to talk at school. I am sure I will be having another discussion with him about when he can talk during school and when he should not talk. Goodness I hope there are other kids in his class who love computer and other types of games as much as he does and can tell him about their interests.

Taking Breaks…

Change

I finally got Adrian to bed. Jade is not so easy lately. They know school is coming quickly and seem to be wanting to savor every last moment of summer. Today was a crazy day in which we replaced a badly dying refrigerator. Adrian HATES change!!! Most of my day was spent listening to him repeating that we did not need a new Silver refrigerator, but needed to keep our old White refrigerator. He even went so far as to put himself in the refrigerators space and pretend to be the old one.

His uncle came over to help his dad move the old refrigerator and when his uncle went to pick him up I saw his body stiffen. Another change he was not expecting I am sure. Most people know not to touch him unless he initiates it. That does not stop a few family members from still trying to hold him or pick him up. You can see the physical changes in his body. Though he did not react the way he normally would today. He did not scream at his uncle. I tried to explain to him why Adrian does not like to be touched and he said it’s okay he likes me. I said it is not about him not liking you. He simply does not like to be touched. He said nothing and told Adrian he would see him again soon to which Adrian replied see you again soon. This uncle is one he does not see often maybe four times a year. He does like him though so that is good 🙂 I just wish more people would get it.

Back to the refrigerator… The delivery men arrived and Adrian tried to run out to them and say hello! Something he did not do before teachers started insisting that he greet people. Now he thinks it is okay to greet everyone. We had our discussion about why we do NOT talk to strangers and he looked for the new refrigerator. The delivery men had to take off our front door to get the refrigerator in and Adrian cried for the front door. He was wailing put the door back on. When the task was complete and the delivery men were gone I asked Adrian if he wanted to help me put our items into the new refrigerator. He of course was hesitant. He tried to put his Silk in the refrigerator and got mad because it is set up differently then our old one so he could not put it in the same spot. He often becomes agitated with tasks like this. If they went one place and no can not he gets angry. He helped for a little while and then lost interest.I am sure I will hear more about needing our White refrigerator back tomorrow.

The events of today have me thinking towards the school year about to begin. Adrian will be in a new school with two new teachers and new classmates. How does a child who can not handle the replacement of a refrigerator cope with that level of change? I expect many difficulties. This weekend I will be working on writing social stories for Adrian to take with him to school. Hopefully these stories will help get him ready for his changes. His school is having an open house on August 31. I plan to take plenty of photos to use in his stories. His last school had him do several trips to his new school last year to help prepare him. I am hoping that helps too.

School

Tonight while Adrian and I were reading a book at bedtime I started asking him what he thought first grade was going to be like. He has a difficult time with Wh” questions as every IEP he has ever had states. He said he was looking forward to school and playing the Dora The Explorer game in his teachers classroom. I explained to him that he may not always get to play the Dora The Explorer game and that he would need to take turns and share. Then I asked him how he will introduce himself to the other children? He said Hi! My name is Adrian. Then I reminded him what he would ask if he wanted to play with other children and he said would you like to play with me? I said yes that is correct! He loves to hear me say that!!! Then we left it at that.

We talk about this every so often. Adrian like other Autistic children has difficulty connecting with other children. Adults are fine. He will talk to an adult about anything which scare me seriously!!! With children though it is different. He does want to connect and talk to other children he just does not understand how to do so. He has connection problems with his sister too. He will talk to her, but it is strained and he does not ask her to do many things with him. He goes crazy for electronics. Give him a computer, an Ipod, a television, a wii and he is happy. He often talks about technology too. Ever time we have ever had to visit an emergency room he has been fascinated by all of the monitors and overhead lights and since age four has referred to them as technology. Where he learned the word I am not sure.

Tonight at dinner Adrian chose to use some delayed echolalia and his sister quoted him and then said mom that’s out of a book and then she named that book. I responded by telling her that most of the language Adrian uses is from things he hears. I don’t think that he realizes that he does it and that that is the way his brain functions. He picks up whatever speech he needs and uses it in everyday language. Last week I wanted him to pick up his toys and he quoted the first page of The Cat and The Hat Comes Back. It fit his situation and he knew it so he used it. I find him doing this a lot. Someone who did not know him well enough would probably never notice it though.

I am hoping that his knack for memorizing helps in school later on. Right now I am most worried about him being alone on a playground at recess without an aide and not wandering. He had an aide last year in Kindergarten, but since he did not wander at all towards the end of the year he will not have an aide this year. I can not help, but think that is a mistake. Maybe I am being too overprotective and need to let him try it though. I t just bothers me. He also has a problem with overfilling his mouth when he eats and has almost choked on several occasions. That kind of thing bothers me about school because this is his first year going all day and that in itself is a huge change. I suppose I will just have to wait and see what happens….