Thursday, January 04, 2007

Postcard from School

Mrs. L sent Therin a postcard with a special message just for him. I just love his teacher! I have been reminding him that school will start again soon and trying (with various amounts of success) to give him homework during the break so that his routine is continued, at least a little bit. I think that this postcard is a gentle, yet fun, way to remind him about school. Mind you, I'm sure she does this for every student but it is especially helpful for Therin.

Routine is so important for him. Even breaking routine for something fun can disrupt his equallibrium. Today, my friend Sam, took Therin & her nephew to the movie "Happy Feet". She came and picked him up and they had a great time. During dinner he started throwing mini tantrums. Brenna plays with a dinosaur on her dinner plate mushing pasta sauce all over it and herself. He screams, "NO TOYS AT THE DINNER TABLE! I WISH SHE WOULD NOT PLAY WITH THAT RIGHT NOW! MAKE HER PUT IT DOWN!" Rowan starts to tell a story and he starts screaming "That's not REAL! Stop TALKING!" I am almost positive it's because of the excitement today at the movies and the eminent arrival of the start of school. I wish that enjoyable things wouldn't disturb him so much.

Break routine to do something fun? Or will you just end up tearing your hair out and scrambling to find fun things to do with cranky kids? MileMasterSarah asked the same questions a couple of days ago. She was thinking about New Year's Eve. All of these routine problems connect back to generalization(which MileMasterSarah also wrote about -- thanks for jumstarting my brain Sarah).

People with autism have a difficult time taking knowledge and applying it in new situations. Each year is a brand new school year. Therin doesn't apply last years knowledge of classroom routines to the new class. To him it's a different room, a different desk, a different teacher, he doesn't immediately see the pattern Bell, Desk, Recess, Desk, Lunch, Desk, Recess, Desk, Home - he focuses on all the little differences in the middle. But it's more than just focusing on the little things. Generalization takes a certain mindset. Most of us take for granted that when you know how to swim that you will be able to swim in the ocean, lake, and reservoir as well as a pool. But if you are autistic you may need to have it explained to you that it is O.K. to swim in an inside pool, an outdoor pool, the lake, the ocean, ect. Around here there is a big water safety program geared toward keeping kids out of canals. We live in an agricultural area so there are many canals criss-crossing the Central Valley going right through towns (looking so inviting durin 104 degree weather). Splasher the Frog comes out to the schools and along with a helper teaches kids about not swimming in canals and other water safety tips. I have to tell Therin that the water safety tips apply to all bodies of water. I don't have to worry about him then concluding that if you can never swim in a canal you can never swim in a pool. When we have talks like these I try and think out loud and model generalizing verbally. Is it working? Who knows. Only time will tell. Do these examples make sense? I'll let you be the judge of that.

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Bath & site change time. I know it's kinda late for a site change but . . . the sooner we start the sooner it's done.

1 comment:

MileMasterSarah said...

You helped explain the generalization thing really well. I wish you lived close by, we have so much in common (at least with our kiddos!). I really struggle with how much “extra” stuff I add into Sandis’s routine because if you veer too far off the track, sometimes it is just too hard to get back ON track. Sandis liking routine has me EXTREMELY organized though. You know, though, it isn’t so much that Sandis likes routine, it is that everyone around Sandis and Sandis is happier when we are IN a routine. It just works out better that way and you have a lot less stimming and tantrums.