Monday, September 28, 2009

What's in a week?

School is rolling along. Daniel is thrilled to go every single day. This makes me very very happy. We all know that when they DON'T want to go, life can turn to hell very quickly. I have reports of his doing very well in all of his classes. We had put a lot of emphasis on math. Last year he got about 20 minutes of one on one pre-teaching of math before each lesson. This helped him a great deal. It was difficult to figure out how to do this with the new schedule of changing classes every hour. They are telling me, "he's doing great, why were we worried?" I know why, because right now it is all review. If he knows something he knows something. They'll see when the new information starts coming!

He is also up for his three year reevaluation. I met with some of the staff last week about this. It is always interesting to me how the focus shifts from one area to another. Lately the shift has been toward his comprehension. This is always hard to explain to people. Especially because if you know him he is chatting almost constantly. This makes it hard for some to understand that his comprehension of what YOU are saying is very very low. This translates to his reading comprehension too. This is nothing new, but it has taken front stage at the moment. It is the biggest obstacle for him carrying on a conversation. He doesn't understand what is being asked of him or he doesn't know how to respond, so he just quotes some movie. He sometimes does say, "I don't know", but not often enough. I was talking to the new speech therapist during this meeting and we talked about this at length. I told her that when I'm with him and someone asks him something, I automatically rephrase the question so he'll understand it. I don't know how I know it will be helpful, but it is. And it's not something I can explain to others how to do. It is an instinct.

When he is getting a new swim coach or para or whatever, I tell them to use short concise sentences. If you get too wordy you lose him. Quickly. That is hard for a lot of people to do though. We set up his schedule for resource room English this year to work on his reading comprehension. I'm hoping we see some improvement. We did last year and it wasn't our focus. Math was. With Daniel you really have to pick one thing to focus on at a time. Otherwise it's just too much.

The speech teacher at school talked to his outside speech teacher. We are working on it. On Saturday I was talking to Daniel about practicing his baritone. He keeps asking me if he has to practice, "all the time". We are trying to get him on a schedule of 4 times per week. Saturday I told him he needed to practice again. And again he says, "do I have to practice all the time?" I went through the whole scenario yet again telling him it is his band homework to practice. His teacher said 4 times per week is good for Daniel. He sat there for a minute and said, "what's a week mean?"

I paused.

Frankly I was stunned. He doesn't know what a week is? This took me by surprise. It also made me very sad. We use calendars and planners all the time and he doesn't know what a week is? I showed him the calendar and explained the weeks. Each week (there it is again) at speech we turn in a job chart "for the week". It blows my mind to think of how many times a sentence starts with "this week" or "next week" and I realize he has had no idea what this means. On one hand, I'm thrilled that he could ask me that question and get the help he needed to figure it out. On the other it makes me realize how far he has to go and how little he understands of what people are saying to him. It also makes me even more amazed at how well he does on a day to day basis.

These glimpses into his mind are always a mixed emotion for me. I know that being able to ask will help him clear up some things. But I can't help but feel sad for him that he walks around daily with everything so unclear. As usual just when you are feeling up, something can bring you down. It's the way it goes. It is part of our constant struggle. You can focus on the positive or on the negative. I choose the positive. Otherwise, I don't know how I could get through the week.


Tanya @ TeenAutism said...

Sometimes, Michelle, it's like we're cut from the same cloth as parents. The way you describe how you rephrase things so Daniel will understand, how you suggest to others that they do the same, the way you showed him what "week" meant, and how you felt because he didn't know. I identify with all of this, including focusing on the positive and getting through the week. *hugs*

Amy said...

I am thinking about how is some ways the concept of a "week" is so concrete (as in here are all the things we don in one week), but it is also really abstract (you can't taste, see, feel, hear, build). We use it all the time to manage our lives but it is such an intangible concept.

I love that Daniel asked you the right question to get the help that he needs. That is SO IMPRESSIVE! But I also know what you mean by the moment of realization that your kid doesn't understand something that you thought he had under his belt. It can be so overwhelming.

BTW, I was delighted that Daniel came right up to me at the Buddy Walk and shook my hand. It really made my day.