Sunday, December 28, 2008

Secret Abilities

Just when you think you know someone? That's when they surprise you. Right? One of Daniel's loves is letters and words. Which is ironic because his comprehension of words is very very below grade level. Let's say about 2nd grade when he is a 6th grader. He can read above grade level. He just doesn't understand it.

When he was little, I mean like 1, 2 and 3. It was just he and I staying home. Zachary wasn't born until after Daniel was 3, so we had a LOT of time together. He didn't really watch much TV then believe it or not. I pretty much stuck to the 1 hour a day. That changed when I was pregnant with Zachary and was on partial bed rest! How do you get a three year old to sit still? Popping in a movie was all I could do to keep him in one place. He also RESPONDED to the videos, and really he didn't respond to much else. It was nice to see him excited about something. So that is my TV excuse!

Before this time, I remember doing Playdoh often. He wouldn't want to touch it, but we had a set that you could make letters. I would make Play Doh letters forever and we'd line them up. Saying the alphabet over and over. He loved that. He had letters that stuck on the wall in the bathtub. He LOVED those. He would spell out words over and over. At age four. When we were driving around town he would read the signs. All the time. At age 3 and 4. It seemed he could always read. He loved putting videos on closed caption so he could read it as it was on the screen instead of just listening. I think it helped him process it better. But he loved/loves to watch those words go across the screen. He also loves computer games that have stories and words on them. It's one of his "things". We know this. It's not a gift or anything. It excites him. One of the many computer games he has that he likes has a poem on it. He quotes it every so often, as he is very echoalic.
The New Kids on the Block:
I spied my shadow slinking

up behind me in the night,

I issued it a challenge,

and we started in to fight.

I wrestled with that shadow,

but it wasn't any fun,

I tried my very hardest-

all the same, my shadow won.

by Jack Prelutsky

I've heard this many times. What I haven't heard many times is the other day we were eating dinner at our kitchen table. Daniel was eating his usual Brat. (I know they are awful for you but it's all he'll eat) Daniel says, "won". "shadow", "my". Zachary looks at me and says, "mom, why is Daniel saying random words". While he is often quoting things, they are usually echoing a book or a movie so it at least makes sense. I looked at Daniel and I could tell he was thinking about something, rather intently while he was continuing, "same", "the", "all". The words were sort of swirling around in my head as familiar, but not really. I looked at Todd and the realization hit us both at the same time. Daniel kept continuing. "Daniel, are you saying something backwards?" I asked.

Daniel stopped and said, "Yes, mom, the New Kids on the Block by Jack Prelutsky". And then he picked up where he left off.

I looked at Zachary and said, "you know that poem Daniel says about the shadow, he is saying it backwards." Zachary had the same reaction Todd and I did in that his eyebrows rose up and we just sat there listening. It was quiet except for the words from the poem. In my opinion, it was eerie. How can he do this? I have heard him do the alphabet backwards before, and he is WAY better at that than most people who attempt it. He can start at any point and go backwards. It's quite amazing. But this was really something altogether different. The brain just doesn't work that way. Well, at least our brains. There is no doubt his brain is wired different than ours. Go ahead. Try to say something you know by rote, backwards. I would be interested to hear from you if you can do it. Or if you know of anyone else on the spectrum with this ability. It is new to me. There isn't often things that are new to me. While we were listening Todd and I were staring across at each other not speaking. Once Zachary learned what he was doing he was laughing. Laughing like, this is unbelievable, laughing. "Daniel, that was awesome, can you do that again?" Zachary said.

Daniel said, "no, I don't want to, that was kind of hard." Kind of hard? Impossible? Apparently not? Amazing, yes. It makes me wonder. . . is this something he does often and doesn't verbalize it? Is this a skill that is usable in some way? What other possibilities does this open up for his brain? Can I please please crawl in there and following those pathways and connections and see how you are wired, Magic School Bus style? I'm dying to know. Daniel you are quite a kid. You never cease to amaze me. I can't wait to find out more of your secrets, abilities and desires. Thanks for the glimpse at what's going on in there.


Jodi said...

WOW - that is amazing! The only thing I can compare it to was when Eric and I first got married. I found that I was getting irritated quite often, and it was hard to "get over it" - both things big and small. My Aunt Pam suggested I tried to switch my brain from the emotional side to the other side (literal? non-emotional?) so that I could stop focusing on my frustration. She suggested that I memorize my SS# forwards and backwards. I did. In 10 minutes (and was still frustrated), so I memorized my DL #, and now when I am trying to "switch" I recite my DL # backwards. Daniel is right, its hard! :-)

Cindy Hunter Morgan said...

Yowzer! This is fascinating...and it is fantastic of you to record it.

Cale said...

That's a really cool ability.
My brother pulls it out sometimes when he's bored or wants attention. He either recites whatever he just said backwards or something we'd recognize like the pledge of allegiance or the Lord's Prayer.
It would have been a handy trick for those accused of witchcraft in Salem.