“Getting” words. Reading with your autistic child.

Every child LOVES to be read to.

This week, when Lincoln brought home a new library book from school instead of agreeing to his request for ME to read to him, I had HIM read to me.

In the beginning of grade 2 in Ontario, the kids are reading books at what I think is a pretty impressive level. I am fortunate that my son is generally keeping close to to “typical” child expectations and my child tends to be pretty confident in his skills so he isn’t reluctant to read to me. Here is an example of a “E” reader…Lincoln is currently at a “H” just to put this into perspective.

“Last year I gave him a funny tie. It made everyone laugh. Dad said he has enough ties”

When I asked Lincoln to read “The dark, dark night” he scoffed. I said “come on! I like a story read to me too” So he gave me a real stink eye look, but then proceeded to read to me as he ate a plate of nachos.

“”Woo-woo! the wind blew in the trees. Squeak-squeak! went the lanterns. And the dark was all around.”

There are LOTS of impressive words in this book, my favorite, that Linc did not blink an eye over is “enormous”

One interesting thing I did notice may be something that is perhaps common in Autism. The only words my son stumbled on were “was” “said” and “of’.

Are you scratching your head too?

I have nothing to confirm it except for a hunch and my own observation but it is almost as if Lincoln cannot “tie” the word to an image or thought that makes the word useful or real to him. Here is my thought process. Words like ‘delicious’ “computer” or Tyranasaurus” all can be tied to a picture in our memory. I know for a fact ‘delicious’ would be that McDonald’s cheeseburger Lincoln is rewarded with each Saturday at lunch. “computer” is an object that gives him much joy to play on and “Tyranasaurus” well heck, we ALL see a fierce and sturdy meat eater at the this spoken name!

What do you think of when someone says “OF”??

Glad I am not the only one 🙂

I am hoping that as he grows from a 7 yr old boy to a teen, then adult he will be able to index images to assist with these stumblers and I am confident with time, we will.
How interesting it is to watch an Autistic mind in action. Despite being a visual thinker myself I find my sons thought process intriguing and wonderful and still quite different from my own.

I only hope that some time soon he will be able to also discuss out loud the ‘hows’ of his thought process so that we may be able to offer better help and take some of the frustration out of the process of being asked to ‘conform’ some what to the neurotypical  learning/teaching styles of our education system ans society.

I must say we are VERY fortunate to have a fount of wonderful support staff at Lincolns school and especially a most delightful woman who is Lincolns full-time E/A that has a profound understanding of how “HE” works….not Joey or Johnny or Sam that also was taught before at the school and had autism. She observes and tweaks the process, she notices what works and runs with it, sees what causes frustration and tweaks again. Strategises with Lincolns teacher on “what next” and refuses to let him idle. She is the most wonderful gift a Mom could be given. I never worry that my son isn’t going to thrieve. She would not allow that to happen as much as I wouldn’t.

The best advice I could give a parent of a child on the spectrum is to try different approaches and give your child your belief in them. Lincoln did not believe he could read me that book, but I did.

He protested a little, I offered a compromise “you try to read it to me, and if it is too difficult I will help you”
For my son, the offer of help, that safety blanket of knowing Mom will be there if he falters, was just enough.
He never asked for help and I only told him the three words I mentioned above.

Some times we surprise ourselves when we accomplish something we believed we could not do. It feels GREAT! and that new-found confidence can  and will move mountains. It might not happen over night, but with the right support a lot of our children that are fortunate enough to attend regular school can get there and meet or exceed our expectations!

Here is my next story request.

Happy Reading!

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