Andrew, Asperger’s, & Academics~

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I have discovered over the years of homeschooling that each child has their own unique bent to learning.

Struggling reader, reluctant writer, and even the over-zealous learner (trust me, that is just as much a challenge as anything else at times).

Andrew is consistent.  That part is nice… no surprises.  =)

He overall has 2 challenges he faces with Asperger Syndrome:

1.  He has sensory sensitivity.  Think that sounds, lights, textures, and yes, even feelings are all magnified in his world.

2.  He is consistently 2 years behind; academically, emotionally, socially, and somewhat physically.

Andrew is currently 8 yrs old which with a late birthday would place him in 2nd grade (if he were in public school).  Gratefully, he is homeschooled and can work at his own level (which is currently more at a 1st grade status).

What works for Andrew?

consistency & repetition… and lots of it!
slow-n-methodical.

Not much has changed (except improvement) from what he was doing 2 yrs ago in Kindergarten.

Reading:  20 min. per day of phonic lessons

We get to celebrate Andrew’s 100 reading lesson of this school year.  Literally we are having a party for him tomorrow.

So what has he read?  We started out with Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.  btw, yes, this was our 3rd attempt at it.  This time worked.  So his 1st 50 reading lessons were out of this book.  Then we repeated McGuffey Primer (yes, the very same one as listed on his Kindergarten schedule 2 years ago.)  I did mention lots of repetition for this child of mine, right?  *wink*

Andrew has currently done 18 lessons of  The Phonetic Reader by Charles W Deane.

wRiting:  10 min of copywork per day

Usually a sentence or two from his reading lesson.  He is still weak in this area.  He no longer has the monkey grip we battled with 2 years ago, but still has weak muscle control.  Some letters are still difficult to form, but his willingness is significantly improved.  We will break down basic penmanship over the summer, as he is now capable of tracing letters.  Up til now he uses no lines or tracing (absolutely could not track it; just to free hand has helped him process the letters properly in his mind.  Now I am noticing he can focus on the tracing/smaller font print.

Here is an example of his copywork from earlier this year:

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aRithmetic20 min per day plus flashcards

He is doing Abeka Arithmetic 1.  It seems to flow quite naturally for him.  His brain processes it easily but can be limited only to his own limited reading skills.  I, admittedly, often read the directions to him, and he doesn’t miss a beat to the correct answers.  Abeka gives him plenty of repetition, plus we are working on flashcards to get his addition facts memorized this year.

This summer we will use Ray’s Primary Arithmetic for fun to practice Andrew’s reading and math skills both.

Andrew also practices telling time and counting money… for fun.  =)

Read alouds:  20 min per day

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The BIG Blue Book of Beginner Books

Tuesdays, Thursdays, & Saturdays-
We take turns reading the sentences, slowly moving to taking turns per each paragraph, then full pages each.

Science: 20 min 

Mondays, Wednesdays, & Fridays-
Christian Liberty Nature Reader
5 min backyard nature studies, and Friday Nature Walks.

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Montessori Manipulatives:  20 min per day

Sensory bins, play dough, lincoln logs, clothes-pins, puppets, etc…

basically, open-ended play creativity… often done alongside the Pre-K kids.

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P.E. :

Andrew LOVES tag.  Maybe he will be a long distance runner when he grows up?
Swimming is on Mondays & Wednesdays.
Walks around the block, riding his bike, and playdates at the playground also keep him active!

and for those days where attention and focus seem to be “off”, we have a mini-trampoline to help get the wiggles out.

Do you have any kids with learning challenges?  How do you approach it?

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2 thoughts on “Andrew, Asperger’s, & Academics~

  1. This is the first time I am seeing your blog and I love it. As a mama of 4 special needs kids (some with “official” diagnosis, others with “…well, we somewhat know what he/she was exposed to prior to coming into your home…and that was bad stuff…we can see he/she is not functioning like their peers…but your kiddo just doesn’t fit into one of our diagnosis boxes…so good luck with that…do you want us to drug him/her??” …uh, no! :o) ) Anyway the point is, I truly appreciate this post…and truly appreciate the blessing of homeschooling.

    One of the biggest things for me is that I do not want any of my children’s self-worth to be tied to their ability to perform academically. Like you, I have kids on both ends of the spectrum and in between, and I do not want my “school comes easy” kids to become arrogant…or my “school is challenging” kids to be discouraged. Therefore, for us, curriculum content does not correlate to the grade a child is in. We don’t necessarily start new books at the beginning of the year, we start a new book when the old one is finished. My kiddos simply go from grade to grade each year, and I teach them “where they are at”. It has taken me a while to free my self from the constraints of what “should” be taught in a certain grade…and have resolved that I would rather have a child that graduates high school with a solid 8th grade math understanding than a child who completes calculus but functionally barely understands 5th grade Math.

    In addition to accepting them academically just where God wants them to be, I have also (with the help of some great homeschool conference sessions), learned to redefine what I call “success” in accomplishing academic tasks. With some of my wiggly, sensory overwhelmed, lacking fine motor skill kiddos, I have learned things like fill in the blank does not have to be done by them writing the answer in the blank, I could write the answers on little sticky notes and they could stick it in the right place. Testing categorical type things like is this a noun, verb, adjective, could be done by taping envelopes to the bedroom doors and having them run up and down the hall and put the word in the correct envelop. …and as they get older, I have learned that if you have a kiddo with a “swiss cheese” brain, where on any given day you can either have a hole or the cheese (and sometimes it changes multiple times per day), that you don’t need to hold them back from learning more advanced concepts because their brain will not “hold” facts like 5×5. Rather they can have a “little black book” as we call it where he keeps all these “facts” that should be stuck in his brain (but gets “lost” from time to time) that he can reference (yes even during a test) to “jog” his memory…and this is not cheating, but rather learning to use his resources. After all, in “real” life is it more important to have every fact you will ever need in your head…or to have the skills to “find” any fact you may need to know? :o)

    So for me, teaching my “very unique, designed precisely the way God needs them be, to fulfill his purpose for their lives” kids…my biggest challenge has been MY attitude not their abilities…and God working on me to align my priorities with His. Yes, I am ridiculously organized, we have routines, charts, repeat, repeat, repeat and all those lovely things that the books tell you are almost “requirements” for special needs kids, and they are…but (praise God!) doing those things comes “naturally” to me. What does not come “naturally” for me is “going with flow” and accepting just where my kids they are at…but with God’s grace, I am getting better at it. ;o)

    1. Aletia, indeed it is about where they are at and just simply moving forward. and there it much to say about us born-organizers learning to go with the flow, and it is only by the grace of God. After so many years homeschooling, I have discovered that regardless of the learning styles, simple is best. For reading, we read; writing, we write; and math, well, we do math… at whatever level the child happens to be at. Bless you and yours, I think you are amazing. =) ~Sheri

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