Slow and Steady…

July 13, 2017

It is summer, but we keep on learning. Usually from 7PM till 8 PM we spent time learning new things, reviewing past information, and practicing skills Robert has never mastered.  That means speech.  But we take it easy.  Gaining confidence is the main goal of our evening sessions.

  1.  Among old Robert’s books I found A First Atlas by Scholastic Inc.  I bought it yeast ago, when both my children were very young and…. never used it.  It was too simple for my daughter and it seemed too complicated for Robert.  So I put it away.  Now, it seems like easy summer reading for Robert.  However, we are not reading one section each day, to memorize new facts.  That would not be possible without repetitions and additional practice.  We treat each section like a set of postcards sent from different continents. Many photographs help to understand short paragraphs.  The simplified maps, showing mainly landforms, allow to make connections to the places pictured in photographs. I don’t ask any questions during or after the reading although I sometimes comment on what we see.  This is my way of emphasizing some facts and making more probable that Robert notices the same things I do.
  2. Robert has just finished the workbook Cursive Success by Handwriting Without Tears. Most of the tasks he completed by himself.  Usually, he did them  after we had finished working together. The process of rewriting printed texts in cursive, seemed to calm Robert and make him feel independent.
  3. Everyday, we started and finished our learning with practicing speech using Autism and PDD Things I Can Say and Do. Robert kept memorizing some sentences.  A few of them we changed into ones more appropriate for him.  First, he read each sentence and then repeated it while looking at me.  Then he read three sentences and repeated them while they were hidden under my hand.  I pointed to the place where the phrase was written, and Robert looking at me stated it.  We did that two or three times each day.  It got easier.  Robert liked most those phrases we added to the text as they related to his experiences.  For instance, for Things I Can Say at the Beach he remembered best, “Let’s walk along the beach”, “Let’s play with waves”, and “Look at the seagull”.
  4. Each day, Robert completed,with different degrees of independence, one test from Math U See Epsilon section ( operation on fractions).  He was mostly independent and proud of himself while adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing fractions. Although as the problems became more complicated (for instance multiplying three mixed numbers or subtracting two mixed numbers which required both regrouping and finding common denominator), he insisted that I remain seated next to him.  Whenever, I tried to get up, he put his hand on my arm and demanded, “Sit, sit, sit” . I also helped sometimes (not always)  with word problems.  He did very well with mental operations.  He was very pleased with himself when he completed independently most of the calculations by himself.  It was a joy to see his face.
  5. After Robert finished reading selected chapters of The Odyssey that were included in Reading Mastery VI, we read The Odyssey  for children published by Usborne. That endeavor was both easier and more complex.  The fact that there were many pictures did help.  The texts were shorter, but the vocabulary was more challenging.  I could help by developing similar worksheets as those included in Reading Mastery, but I didn’t want to.  I just wanted to read and explain some words during reading.  Again, no asking questions to check Robert’s comprehension  although, I stopped a few times in each chapter to comment on the presented events or pictures.  I also expressed “surprise” about different adventures described in the book or I reminded Robert that there were some elements missing.

We are moving slowly, but we are moving forward. I see progress.  Maybe a little wobbly, maybe slow, but progress. I love noticing how much Robert has learned so far.  But I love even more watching Robert realizing how much he  knows.  That sly smile in his eyes! Priceless.

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