The Days of May

Child #3 turned 18-
yes, no longer a child in reality, but still my child.

Some outdoor fun:

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Child #6 turns 7-
“the baby” who obviously is no longer a baby.

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and frankly, Bryson (7) is TJ’s mini-me!

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Then there was Mother’s Day…

me and my boys!

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as we went to Grandma M’s place to visit her!

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I’m pretty sure she enjoyed her time with us.

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Next came homeschool State testing,
which officially wraps up our school year for 2012-2015.

The results excelled some of my expectations, and was typical for some.
It definitely showed that time, consistency, and individual attention was effective for my Aspie child.
Unlike the previous 12 yrs of testing, I opted to test the kids additionally in Social Studies and Sciences.  I was curious as to what the results might be, with the awareness that we have not truly had any formal lessons beyond interest-led topics and good quality books (not text books).  They all scored average in Social Studies (which was not history based much to my surprise) and excelled in the sciences.  Hmmm, I guess self-led learning is efficient!  *love it!*

So with all this, comes the announcement of TJ’s graduation!
Transcripts, a diploma, and some family fun!

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* May was actually an emotional roller coaster of events;
from a recent loss of a beloved teen,
to reflecting previous losses of loved ones in this same month (3 to be exact),
to celebrating life and accomplishments and embracing joys in the moments…
I took time off from here (the blog) to regroup and regain a sense of normality.
I am well rested, reestablishing goals, and looking forward to a relaxing summer!

~simply grateful

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?

Our Andrew is Eight!

Andrew is growing by leaps & bounds…

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His sense of adventure is expanding…

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What once was a challenge is now curiosity.

Learning to ride his bike….
going extreme hiking….
making new friends….
bugs!…
nature walks…
reading (thank the Lord)…
puzzles (his new found interest)…

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He’s learning to compromise…
recognizes when he needs his own space…
willing to do chores…
eager to do his learning lessons…

His goals this year is to learn to tie his shoes,
run a mile with his mom *smile*,
improve his penmanship,and to study ocean animals.

Andrew,
I am so proud of all the things you are learning to do. 
I love how you always try your best! 
I appreciate your patience when I am busy.
I adore your heart.
I enjoy your laughter.
I love you for being you!
                                              love, mom

Asperger’s & Community

 

 

Andrew is a wonderful boy.  He is caring.  He is honest.  He is fair.  He loves people.  He’s silly & fun to be around.  He likes to talk and notices the small details of things.  In so many ways, he is like the average boy, yet there are things that are different.  Not bad, just different.    And different can stand out. 

The most obvious trait is his world of “onomatopoeia”Think Batman here folks.  Crash, Bang, pow, boom… get the idea?  Oh yes, this is Andrew’s favorite ‘outlet’.  Whatever he watches he will reenact, only he doesn’t use words, he uses sounds.  So us on the outside of his little world, it appears strange, loud, and at times, a bit annoying.  Picture waving arms, jumping, growling, humming, etc.  He perfectly well knows what he is playing, but to those of us on the outside, we are clueless.  I can catch on, I can limit the shows that really trigger the ‘wild’ scenes, I can distract him as needed.  I can even explain to others what on earth he is doing, and once pointed out, it doesn’t seem so strange after all.  Although it is helpful to know “what” he is acting out-  Tom & Jerry?  Super Mario Brothers?  Star Wars?

Because Andrew has a strong sense of ‘right’, he also has a strong sense of  being offended.  And he will stay mad until it is talked through.  I think he has been able to “hold grudges” since he was 3 months old and I first left him with a dear friend for an evening (with his first bottle).  He was not happy with her for months after that, lol.

Sensory Issues is a very common trait among the Autism Spectrum.  The way it was explained to me is that all the senses are magnified in a child with Asperger’s.  This would be why Andrew leans towards the “beige” diet- plain, bland foods.  This is why he gets spunky in a store- fluorescent lighting over stimulates him.  This is why he is the first to *smell* something- good or bad.  Loud noises either excite him or agitate him- never quite know which.  When overstimulated, he tends to get ‘twitchy’ (aka tics).  Sometimes voice ones, but commonly a curl-your-hands-under-your-chin ones with little tremors.

Family takes him as he is.  They know the “why” behind the behaviors.  Catching the ‘triggers’ (agitations) is always a learning curve.  =)
Extended family just accepts him as he is.   He can be in your space,  question your motives (why can’t she have 4 cookies? or why can’t he play across the street? – not questioning authority, simply wanting the answer),  be noisy, and tattle if something appears unjust.  And family recognizes that he is caring, fun, and will always like you just the way you are.

Our Church Family– is amazing.  They adapt to Andrew as needed.  No judging, no questioning…just simply loves on him.  He stayed in the nursery (0-2) until he was 4.  We were then gone for 2 years and when we came back last year (at 6yrs old) he was most comfortable with the preschoolers (3-4).   These fabulous sunday school teachers made him “helper”, and let him blend in (his skill level;  both emotionally & socially).  Now that he is nearing 8 yrs old, he, on his own, has made his way to the 1st through 3rd grade group.  Again, these teachers do so well with him.  Of course, he behaves well and is such a nice boy, and they just redirect him when needed.

Getting to know Andrew– both of the big kids (Justin, and now Preston) had to acclimate to the type of mannerisms that Andrew has.  After all, Andrew recognizes that home is always a safe place to ‘check out’ into his world.   So his oddities are more predominant there.  However, we are in the process of giving him a key word to help him know when it is too much.  A social cue of sorts.

Neighbors who see this loud, squirrely kid flailing about in our front yard (always reenacting a scene in his mind) I am sure are a bit puzzled until we happen to get to know any said neighbors, then it becomes an “ohh” moment.   Sherry’s family (our homeschool buddies) has been very understanding; our grouchy, hermit neighbor?   not.so.much.

New friends- 
Nothing was more beautiful than my sweet bloggy friend, Mama D.  When we met up at the beach with her 3 youngest, the first thing she asked was how her kids could understand Andrew.  I think her wording was if there was anything that her kids needed to know about Andrew.   I only stated to give him personal space (which is a bit ironic of the one whom is unaware of others’ personal boundaries, lol).  And know what?  Those boys of Mama D’s were fabulous!  They played so well with Andrew.  It is amazing how well someones willingness to understand another, made this special child of mine blend into normal.  I find this blessing to be so much more abundant in the homeschool community rather than public school; where different is ok, because really, aren’t we all just a bit different?

Andrew & aspergers.

Some folks don’t realize we have a child with Asperger Syndrome,

and some folks like to hear how we raise a child who thinks outside the box.

So this post is an update on our sweet aspie child, Andrew!

Andrew is sensitive.

He is sensitive to all things sensory. 

Sometimes things will agitate him such as bright lights, loud noises, texture of clothes, texture and flavor of food, and smells.

Sometimes these very same things he will delight in.

Basically, as long as he is not caught off guard he processes well.

Bright lights bother him; he has always enjoyed the dark.  As a wee guy he loved lurking in dark spaces.
Here is a fun story called Ghost Hunter  (before we knew that Andrew’s differentness actually had a label, so to speak)

Loud noises will trigger him to be more noisy than he already is.  *smile*  Vacuum cleaners trigger this one well.

Overall clothes, thankfully, are not near as big as an issue as it could be.  Yes, for years we couldn’t get him to wear them, cept out in public of course.  We approached this in segments.  Ok Andrew, you are 4 so now you must leave your pants on during the day.  Now you are 5 and you will need to stay dressed for the whole day.  You get the idea.  His newest clothing quirk is to suck on his shirt til it is soaked.  Gentle reminders to keep his shirt out of his mouth is about all I can do.  This too shall pass…

Food is always an issue.

He is king of the ‘beige’ diet.  chips, crackers, cereal, mac-n-cheese, grilled cheese, chicken nuggets, etc…

Eggs is his newest favorite!  I am still a bit amazed, after all, it is a bit of a strange texture, eh?
Mind you that he ONLY eats eggs that his DAD will cook.  Yes, my eggs are dissed every time, lol.

Surprisingly, when we did our All About Apples lesson, his favorite apple flavor was Granny Smith!

So, developmentally (which includes emotionally, socially, and academically) Andrew seems to run about 2 yrs behind.

Well, I am pleased to say that this is the year that he is thriving!

He is 7, and now in 2nd grade.

This year alone he has….

~begun to read.

~learned to swim.

~learned to ride his bike.

A funny story of sorts.  Dad comes home with a new bike for Andrew.  Now mind you that Andrew has not had much experience on bikes cept the rare occasion of riding Bryson’s wee bike with training wheels.  Well Dad took the training wheels off Andrew’s bike, and he was not too impressed with this whole idea.  So Andrew being who he is, he made a deal with dad.  With his best sigh ever he says “fine.  If I learn to ride my bike, will you put my training wheels back on?”  Took him 2 days to learn, and has never looked back!

~learned to play with a variety of different personalities and ages.  This is a pretty big deal since he always preferred to play by himself for so long.  He still needs his own space once in awhile, but usually only when he is getting overwhelmed about something.  Basically he knows when to give himself a time ou, so to speak.  It is ‘the thoughtful spot’ that I have mentioned before.

Some fabulous traits that Andrew has is his sense of right and wrong.  If in doubt, he will always ask.  He will never choose something naughty intentionally, thus if he does need to be corrected it has to be stated in a matter-of-fact way.  His ability to lie is pretty non-existent.   He will just state things as they are, even if it incriminates him.  He will speak up if someone else is not honest.  Not to get anyone in trouble, but because of an instilled sense of truth.

~learned to pray.  This has been quite priceless.  Whatever is on his heart is what is said.  Daddy is always first in his prayer.  Grandpa and Grandma are a quick 2nd.  Me?  not.so.much.  lol.

This is what is working for Andrew academically. 

Andrew finally was willing to do the lessons in How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. (our 3rd attempt, *ahem*)
He successfully made it to lesson #54.  At this point, the lessons were becoming longer and his attention span was not.  *smile*
This is where I opted to chose the Phonetic Reader for his reading lessons now.  He reads some, writes some, and learns some phonics and sight words at the same time.  He is also writing letters to the people he loves!  His handwriting is not a strong point so his willingness to do this is fabulous!

I also restarted Our Home Kindergarten with him and Bryson.  Don’t let the ‘kinder’ part fool you.  This is a progressive learning style that is not dummied down to todays standards.  I find it beneficial in a math/science/creative thinking sort of way.

I have not put my finger on what official math program we will do.  Probably Abeka Arithmetic 1 when I feel he is ready (which is soon).  He has finally got a handle on numbers to 100 and beyond, skip counting by 10’s and 5’s, and has a basic understanding of how addition and subtraction works.  We will probably work on telling time this month, then move on to his math workbook after that.

A goal Andrew has for this year is to learn to tie his shoes.  I will keep you updated on this.  =)

So, do you know anyone with Asperger’s? 

Do you have and questions?  Feel free to ask!