Friday, September 9, 2011

Where have we been?

We have been SO busy that I haven't been blogging or hardly even looking at my email. (There's about 200 of them sitting in my inbox...)
Our school routine has become manageable with all of Daniel's therapies, some days it doesn't get all the way done but when the poor boy has 5 therapies a week, some of them more than once a week you do what you can. Luckily for us, since he was ready to start learning how to read in January we are ahead. Last week the school (he's enrolled in a homeschool charter school through the school district), did a reading assessment on all the kids to find out where they are at and make sure they are making the progress they need to. Starting Kindergarten all they want to know if they know them is the Alphabet. He of course aced that. I was talking to the teacher and he said they would test later in the year to find out how they are doing on phonetic sounds. I said, he'll ace that too. He then said that starting first grade they test to see if they can read each letter of a short vowel, 3 letter word and then put them together as well as 3 letter short vowel nonsense words. That is what he is doing now. So he is on a 1st grade reading level. An example of what he is reading right now is this-
Tip is a pup.
Tip sat up.
Tip has a tag.
Tip dug in the mud.
Bad Tip.
With Math he may not be quite so advanced, I don't know, but he is steadily working at it. We had some trouble with him switching 16 and 19 and then when we worked on correcting it, 16-20 all fell apart. So we've been several weeks working on that but I think we've finally got it. The next part of counting we will work on 30, he currently calls it 20-10. Today we added 11+12, 11+15, and 10+20 with manipulatives. We  have been using the manipulatives to work on the place value of 10 as we add. He knows the +,-,= signs and how to use them. A couple of weeks we played store as we have been working on identifying money. The kids started out with some money but as they bought things they quickly ran out of money. I could have just given them more money but I didn't want to re enforce the idea that so many kids have that money grows on trees, so when they ran out they had to earn it by picking up a certain number of things in their room. We are also learning how to write the numbers which is a slow process for him.
We have been reading lots of good books. We just finished Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden Book of Verses, and started on Mother Goose's Nursery Rhymes. At "tea time" (snack time) I try to alternate poetry/nursery rhymes and tale tales/classic tales like Peter Pan  of which we just finished a version of.
They are working hard at the Explode the Code Series which is what Daniel is doing for handwriting right now. It also incorporates phonics. Daniel is set to finish book B early next week and move on to Book C. Reagan plugs away at Book A. I don't make her do it, she's only 3 but she want's to be doing it at the same time as Daniel. It has a picture of something frequently and asks you to write, or circle etc. the letter that picture starts with and she has a terrible time with that. But writing seems to be the only way she is learning her letters, so she is slogging through learning her ABC's.
We just started a new book called Building Thinking Skills and it's just what Daniel needs right now. I'm not keen on workbooks for him as he has a very low tolerance for them and we really don't do much of them but I'm excited for this one because it focuses on all of his weak points, following directions (he can't do more than a one step direction and has difficulty following through on a direction in the first place), coloring, positional words and a few other areas.
This week we got the German going. We got a couple of kids German books and Paul has been reading them to them. I taught them the phrase Ich liebe du (I love you), and they have been making up songs all week to about those words and what they mean. I do have talented kids!
Daniel is working hard at his Violin. He is getting closer and closer to actually putting his bow to the violin, but there have been a lot of things for him to learn before we get to that point. He's learning the Suzuki method where they learn to play before learning the notes. It's not a method I like for the piano but for violin it seems to work and I think he really needed it with his problems with gross and fine motor skills, and low muscle tone, it's hard enough for him just to be able to what he needs to without having to worry about the actual notes.
For science we are trying to get outside as much as possible (as much as therapy will allow) before it gets too cold out. We've learned about a couple of plants and leaves falling in the fall. Mostly though we are just going out and observing as we have time.
We have included his therapies as his school work. They would if he was going to school and his therapies work on some of the same things so I'm counting it as his school. Already with Occupational  and Physical Therapies we are seeing a difference. He can finally ride a bike with training wheels (before he didn't have enough strength to get his legs to push his wheels all the way around when they got to the top) and he is asking to go out riding all the time. Occupational Therapy has also helped so that he doesn't throw tantrums as much. My new favorite is Behavioral Therapy or ABA Therapy. The therapist comes to our home and works with him 2-3 hours a day on behaviors that we as parents feel are a problem. She has been WONDERFUL! Every parent should have one of these. It just really helps to have someone come in with a fresh outlook and a positive outlook and say I can help you and these bad behaviors don't have to stay forever! With kids that don't have some of Daniel's problem normal every day disciplines work just fine, if you have a difficult one you might pick up a parenting book. Kids like Daniel and kids with similar sorts of problems need a little something more. So this is what it looks like for therapies for Daniel-
Sunday- Behavioral Therapy, 3 hours (She comes to church with us!)
Monday-Behavioral Therapy, 2-3 hours
Tuesday- Occupational Therapy 1.5 hours, Physical Therapy 1 hour
Wednesday- Occupational Therapy 1.5 hours, Speech Therapy 1 hour, Behavioral Therapy 2-3 hours
Thursday-Play Therapy 1 hour
Friday- Behavioral Therapy 2-3 hours
Saturday- Behavioral Therapy 2-3 hours
And don't forget various doctor's apts., and his violin lessons, violin group lessons and swimming  lessons (twice a week.). I wouldn't choose to have my 5 year old this busy. But from every thing I have read and as his Occupational Therapist put it to us this week, "You do this now and work with him as hard as you can and maybe you can retire when you get older. If you don't you won't be able to because you will be taking care of him for the rest of your life." The key with Autism Spectrum disorders is early intervention. The earlier the better. Since we didn't catch this until 5 we are a little behind but not to late, so this is going to be our life for awhile. We are trying to embrace that fact and love the journey that God has seen fit to place us on. Thanks for sharing it with us.
More about our summer and pictures to come soon.