(Here’s a brief explanation for what you will see on my blog for the month of October: I’m taking part in the 31 Days of Writing Challenge over on the Nesting Place blog. The topic I chose to write about is: 31 Days Toward Understanding Autism)
Books. I love them. But how do you get your kids to read them when they have communication issues? Well, as I said in a previous post…to each his own.
In a school (special ed) meeting, I mentioned that M didn’t like reading because he had trouble staying focused on solid paragraphs of words, and that all the words eventually just began to ‘jumble’ together in his head. So our principal (may God bless her richly) suggested ‘graphic novels’ (age-appropriate ones, of course).
So off I went to Barnes & Noble, and in the kids section, I found a whole bookshelf filled with graphic (or cartoon-styled) novels. Books that were regular stories, but in picture/visual form. Even some of the ‘classics’ (Mark Twain) had been graphically done. So I grabbed two….(ya know…just in case they didn’t work).
When I got home, I showed them to Max (or tried to)….because at first he wouldn’t even look at them (we don’t like change, right? ). But when he saw the pictures, he said, “Oh, wow. This is like my Archie comic books!” (insert internal *happy dance*).
He couldn’t believe that this was a ‘regular’ book and that he could actually visualize what the story was about instead of struggling with tons of words just crammed onto a page. It made it easier for him to focus because he could actually ‘see’ the dialogue, and also the visual components of the book helped him to be able to follow the plot.
The result?….he stayed up till 1 am reading (and finishing) the book that night.
And me?…well, I cried (for joy and, privately, of course).
Finally, finally, finally we were on the right course. And now he loves going to the library where he can pick out books that he can ‘see’ (and understand) as he reads.
And G?…well, I bet you’ve already guessed it (if you’ve been following along), if it’s about something he’s interested in…he’ll read it. If not, it’s not gonna happen.
I actually got him a book from a series he was reading, and here was the conversation…
Me: “Hey, G, I got you a book from that series you like.”
G: (looking immediately at the series’ number at the top of the book) “Well, thanks, Mom, but I’ve already read that. Act-u-al-ly (yes, it’s his favorite word) I’ve read…(and he proceeds to inform me of…every…single…one he’s read in that series).”
G: “But it’s okay, Mom. You tried. And that was nice.”
Oh, well. Gee thanks, kiddo. I appreciate your gratefulness (insert small doses of sarcasm here).
G enjoys reading but prefers his Xbox. It’s more…interactive. (Wonder if they make books like that?) Besides, he doesn’t like it when the character makes any changes. (Not kidding here.) For instance, he was reading a certain series and, suddenly…he just quit. When I asked him ‘why’, he told me “Well, he (this mouse) started out with a sword, and then he changed weapons. (Insert look of horror and shock!) What is that? Why did he change? I don’t understand.”
G then refused to finish the book, so…I just returned it to the library. (sigh…poor lil’ mouse. He just wanted to shake things up a bit, ya know? Just a change of pace, right? He learned real quick that that’s not allowed in this (autistic) house! )
And S? Well, if it’s…
…has ballerinas in the storyline
…is about dancing
…pink…(well…you get the point)
…then she likes it.
And while she loves for me to read to her, she’s quite independent (…don’t know where she gets that from…(cough-cough) don’t-reply-Dad (cough-cough)). She likes to make up her own storyline (…our humble apologies to all the authors out there). Hopefully as she learns her words, that will improve. Or…maybe she will just write her own books.
I’ve learned to never take our kids’ creativity (or how they make things work for them)…for granted.
And what I’ve also learned to accept is, though reading lots and lots of books is what is ‘accepted’ by our educational system (and society) as smart, good, and challenging…each of our kids have their own talents. And I don’t plan on ‘pushing’ them into areas that cause them to constantly struggle…just because it might make me look like a ‘good’ mom.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I want them to excel. But I also want them to excel in what they are naturally gifted to do. I want them to know their talents are incredible, even if they look different than…anyone else’s.
I personally believe that the scripture in Proverbs which says, “Train up a child in the way he should go…” is not just about their spirituality. I believe it also takes into account how God made each child (autistic or not), individually. God has given each of them specific talents, and so we, as parents, should do our best to ‘train them in the ways’…they were designed (by God) to go.
(Which is what I’ll try to tackle tomorrow. Specific talents, ‘tics’, and/or quirks they all have. Numbers, dancing, building, technical abilities, dinosaurs, art….(in other words)…their incredible creativity.)