Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified and English homework

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by 'Chelle, Oct 22, 2007.

  1. 'Chelle

    'Chelle Active Member

    Well, my son's English teacher has finally met the true difficult child, along with the resource and guidance. The four of them have been stopped short by his total and complete refusal to pick a book to read to do a synopsis on. She said she has never had a student stand there and just say no the way he has. So she calls me and relates this, and the tone of her voice is hopeful that I may be able to do something about it. In my head I'm thinking, yeah and so? but outwardly I explain that English has always been this way, and that I was writing a letter with this personal plan returned requesting they complete the educational testing from grade 6, or retest, because this Language/reading component was missed the last time. I guess I should have pushed them to do it then, but he improved so much it didn't seem important. Now in grade 9 he's struggling and it's all too much for him. I'm sure there's something up with him in this area, but what I don't know. He can read well, he understands what he reads, but he simply cannot explain to anyone else what it's about, or answer questions about the story. He did a short story assignment last night that I literally had to read the story and talk him through 5 questions. He has claimed his entire life that he has no imagination, and I believe him. He could probably cite passages from the story, and understand what it says, but then to extrapolate meaning (eg what "lesson" did a character learn) and descriptions from that passage are totally beyond him. This sometimes spills over into Social Studies type homework as well - eg what effects might building the Great Pyramid have had on society - he just can't think beyond what he's read.

    I know this is part of his Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) diagnosis, he's very literal in the answers he does give. They are suggesting he drop French for Resource room to get help with this, but he likes French and does well in it (go figure) so I don't think he'll agree, plus will Resource really help if his brain just won't work that way. Dropping French will not make him happy, which will make him more school resistant again. I don't know really what I'm asking. Perhaps parents of other Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)/Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) kids, do you have any hints on how I can help him with this homework, or even any insights on how your kids deal with this kind of thing, and what you did/do.
  2. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Why can't he have the resource room instead of the english class? If that is where the big problem is, it seems to me that then is when he needs resource teh most.

    Is it just me, or are schools particularly strange with wanting a child to give up something he enjoys to get help in that time span for a class offered at another time? If I am having trouble from 10-11 in my class, does it make sense to sit through it totally not understanding it and get help during a class from 2-3, when I am learning in the 2-3 class? Why not have the help happen during the 10-11 time slot?

    The times are just examples I picked, but sometimes things are more clear to me when put this way. Also makes it harder for my school district to wiggle out.


  3. 'Chelle

    'Chelle Active Member

    Thanks Susie, that was one of my wishes too LOL but resource room is for additional help with core classes the student has trouble with, ie English, Math, Science, Social Studies, and an elective class is sacrificed for it. You have to take the core class, then resource as extra help in those classes. We can say no, he wants to stay in French, he just doesn't get the extra Resource room help then. That's why I'm torn over whether to make him drop French, if the extra help won't help him that much. If it's his Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) thinking, how much help can resource room be? His psychiatrist did give him a tip, to write points down as he reads the chapters, and one main thought about what he read. Then when he's done a chapter he has all the important points down and he just has to flesh it out into sentences. I thought that was a good one, and will push him to do that.

    His next semester he has his fun electives, guitar and home Easy Child/shop, so he will doubly hate to drop one of them for English.
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    My fourteen year old son has Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified, and no conventional imagination. He can answer literal questions well and has a great memory, but has no ability to answer in the abstract. It is part of Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified, and I'm not convinced it can be changed. I wouldn't take him out of French if he likes it (my son loves languages too--very concrete). I would instead get an IEP to make allowances for this part of his disability. Unlike a learning disability, this is how he is and I'm not sure that resource will help him be able to think in the abstract. I would concentrate on his strengths. Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) kids are way different than typical teens and their educational needs should be addressed as such. MY son's teacher lets him try to express himself in words rather than writing and she coaxes him. It makes it easier for him. Lucas doesn't think "in the big picture" of life and he never will. He thinks "this is what I read therefore this is what I can tell you." I don't think it' sa bad thing. Good luck :smile:
  5. 'Chelle

    'Chelle Active Member

    Thanks MWM, thinking in the abstract, that's exactly it but you said it better and more concise than I did. He can't do it, and I'm not sure he ever can. As you say, it's not really a learning disability it's the way they think, so I'm not hopeful resource room can help. He does so well in math, science, french, even the grammer/spelling portion of english, so I think it doubly frustrates him. I'm going to still have that portion of the testing finished, just in case, but I don't know what they'll find.

    The sad thing is he really wants to be a vet, and you have to take English in University (or perhaps you can do a 2nd language instead as an elective will have to check that). If he has to do English there, he may as well forget being a vet as he'd never make a high enough grade to make it into vet college the competition is so stiff. Hinging his hopes on maybe 2nd language in U.
  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I'll tell ya. Your son is doing much better academically than mine if he wants to be a vet and is doing well in so many subjects. Great for him!!! Mine is slightly behind his peers in his subjects and, since he can't multi-task, will likely have to do simple work. But as long as he's happy, that's fine with me :wink:
  7. 'Chelle

    'Chelle Active Member

    Well, he understands and does the work, especially math, but not without a lot of grumbling and waiting for the last minute to do homework. He detests school - period. He's not well organized and doesn't always get what's an assignment to hand in, and what's not. Has to have it all pretty straight forward what he supposed to get done and when, and he still forgets and refuses to write it all down. It's a struggle, but I think he has that goal and if it helps him get through high school I'm happy for it. Whether he can achieve it is another thing, and maybe a big disapointment down the road. Maybe by then he won't be able to face another 7 years of school, or whatever it is LOL. As long as he get through what he has to, and finds something to do that he's happy with, that's ok with me too.

    Right now, he's gone from fighting it as he used to, to being more passive and just refusing to do certain work - Engligh.
  8. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Maybe he could volunteer at a shelter or vet's office? Give him a taste, might motivate him. Our town has a major vet teaching school. It is super tough, and even the sciences become abstract and would be quite tough. But that does not mean the entire field of vet medication is off limits. He may find it is his passion for life, or may findit is his passion for right now.

    Either way, passion is good!!

    For the english, talk with other moms here dealing with Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified. ask what helped them in the iep process, and what they regretted. Tehn you will have ammo for hte iep, never enough ammo for some schools, so preparation is key.


  9. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Yoo hoo! This is me, jumping up and down, waving my hand in the air...

    OK, here is something that worked for difficult child 1.

    ATTENTION! I think I can help in practical ways here.

    This worked for us, I recommend you try it. You will need to get teachers on side, but you CAN try this for a good chance at big improvement.

    To begin - difficult child 1 can't multi-task. He couldn't write a narrative in elementary school. He couldn't write a narrative in middle school, until a teacher taught the class to mind-map. Also known as clustering.

    The problem for difficult child 1 was he couldn't hold a sequence of thoughts or ideas in his head. If he had to write a story on a holiday to the beach, he could maybe get as far as "we went to the beach" but no further. He would then refuse, be in floods of tears, have no way of doing it. He just didn't know where to start, and if we helped him start, he didn't know what to do next.
    When trying to get information from a block of text, he couldn't determine which bit was important and which was not - to do this he would have to hold two pieces of information in his head and compare them.

    The problem was being able to hold two items in his head and manipulate information mentally.

    Does this sound familiar?

    OK, now down to mind-mapping. The technique involves putting all the relevant information on paper, it's like writing down in hard copy, the mental processes you need to do this task.

    You choose a key word relevant to the task. You then think about the topic and write down on the same sheet of paper, other words or ideas that are relevant. Keep thinking, keep making short notes. One word notes. Then when you are done, look at the words. Any that connect, draw a line to connect them. Any that maybe with hindsight don't make sense, cross them out. Put in the connections, looking at each one in turn. This is easy because first of all it's on paper already, and second, you only have to think about one thing at a time.
    Then when you are done, you can begin your essay or other writing task. If you're still uncertain, then go back to your mind map and number things in order of sequence.
    To write - begin where you feel is best (or at No 1, if you numbered it) and follow the sequences.

    This is a technique developed by Edward de Bono. Google it and see what you find.

    An example - you are asked to write an essay comparing "Taming of the Shrew" with the film "10 Things I Hate About You".
    On the top of the page you write "10 things" on one side and "Shrew" on the other. Under this you can put the things you remember from the play/film. Connect across the ones which are similar, or seem to be related (such as "Pat Verona" = "Petruchio"). Maybe think about what the play is saying, and also the message of the film. Perhaps write these at the bottom - or the top, if you prefer. This is all about what you feel is good.
    When you've done everything you can think of, look at it. Do you feel more confident about answering the essay now? It's now much easier because it is written down.

    In essays, the key words have distinct, well-defined meanings. "Compare and contrast" means something very different to "analyse". "Discuss" is different again. But once explained and rehearsed, they are actually quite easy, even for Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) kids.

    So, for difficult child 1 - we had to teach him this, and drill him. He needed to be encouraged and supported, the teachers had to recognise that he wasn't being naughty or difficult, he really was incapable of doing the task without a lot of tuition and support.
    The next step was for both teachers and parents to 'talk him through' using mind maps to do simpler writing tasks. difficult child 1's breakthrough came when he was in Middle School but it took practice. He did resent mind maps although as he got older he agreed he needed them.

    Then later in high school the writing tasks got really complex (such as the Shakespeare question). To matriculate, he had to do it. And to us and his teachers, this seemed an impossible task.

    But we rehearsed him. His English teacher set him essay after essay and sat with him to go over each one, marking the good points and the weak areas. She worked with him to find better ways of writing the weaker areas. It was hard work for all, but it did the trick. The combination of practice with mind maps, of drill, of one-to-one tuition intensively in writing tasks - he passed his exams.

    So, in summary, what you need - you and his teachers need to understand mind-maps, so you can teach him. He needs to be given this at a time of day when he can function - homework is NOT a good idea. In class time would be best. He needs remedial support in English with someone trained in this. Alternatively - home school.
    You then need to support him as he practices this. You can use this to summarise text as well. And the more you as parents use this technique for yourselves, the better you can help him with it too.
    The next is drill. Rehearsal. Analyse technical terms and define them clearly, on a sheet. Hang the sheet where he can read it often and memorise it (behind the toilet door is good).
    Support him. Encourage him. Don't be too critical. Remind him of his goals and his brains. He can do this, but because his brain works in a different way, he needs this different technique to get over the 'hump'.

    And be aware, this takes time and ongoing effort. But this is something you can do for him and yes, if he can do this he CAN achieve his goals.

    Our kids brains learn differently. If we can help them find a way to use this difference rather than fight it, we can help them teach themselves a workable way to learn. It needs flexibility in teachers, but this teacher sounds like she wants a solution. Let's hope she's enough of a lateral thinker to take this idea on board.

    And mind-mapping is also a darn good technique for anybody - teach the whole class. Some will reject it as not needed. I remember fighting my teachers as a kid when they wanted me to write an essay plan, But those plans were linear - a series of ideas one after the other. The mind-map can easily be non-linear (and therefore more complex) which makes it useful even for smarty-pants who have really good mental manipulation skills.

    Anyway, have a play and see what you think.

  10. Mrs Smith

    Mrs Smith New Member

    Marg's mind mapping idea helps with organization but I haven't found anything to help my son understand the abstract inferential concepts. Once you get to the upper grades, it's all about non-literal interpretation. My kid is still pretty clueless.
  11. The mind mapping is a wonderful technique. One of our difficult child's middle school English teachers insisted that her students use this technique for writing and she wanted to see the "worksheet". I thought it was a fabulous idea. I really believe that this process has helped difficult child with writing, but he struggles against using it or any type of process. He just wants to sit down and let it flow.

    The problem is that writing has become a strong emphasis in our school district. Writing portions have been added to the SAT and the PSAT . Honestly ,though, the grading seems very subjective to me. difficult child hates English, hates Literature and hates writing. He actually can read and write quite well. Still, he hates the subject matter. And, when difficult child doesn't like something - well he just doesn't get the point of giving it a try. Oh boy, 1 1/2 years to go!!!
  12. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Josie, with the non-literal interpretation, this is where we put in a lot of the hard work. We sat down and basically did the subject with him, working it out for ourselves and then putting it into concrete terms as much as possible. There will be limits as to just how much you can do with this - when difficult child 3 was studying Geography this year, almost half the subject was on "global change" - this for a kid who is still trying to work out what the main export of Nicaragua is. "Globalisation" is just too abstract. I talked him through the questions, translated them into as concrete a form as I could, used examples and analogy a lot, play-acted it with him, did everything - and he would get the paper done, with a lot of teeth-pulling. Then as I was signing off on it to post it to the school, difficult child 3 would say, "I know I just completed that but I don't understand a word of it.

    A big part of the problem for difficult child 3 was that the curriculum insists that "global change" be half the material for this year. Stupid. And the biggest part of the problem was his teacher totally couldn't 'get' that difficult child 3 was incapable of doing the work as she presented it - she should have modified it for him, as other teachers do so often. When I complained to his roll teacher, I was told that difficult child 3 was one of many students with the same complaint. Eventually we were told to just refuse to do any more Geography, since it was causing so much trouble for him.

    In this case, the problem was only this subject because NO attempt had been made to make the topic accessible for difficult child 3. There are always other ways to set the work, to make it possible for the student to demonstrate a sufficient understanding of the topic. Or to at least have a go.

    What worked for us with difficult child 1, was the same level of simplification, plus a definition (plus examples) of the main words used to ask a question, plus assisted one-on-one practice, with the teacher co-writing the first few essays to show him how to do it.

    They can't make it too abstract because too many kids can't handle it. But they often make it LOOK more abstract than it is. I have a suggestion - shoot me over a question you feel is beyond him, and I'll see if I can find a way to make it more concrete for him. I've been amazed at how much difficult child 1 managed to do. easy child 2/difficult child 2 also hated "analysing things to death" the way they had to in English at school. And yet now, they often watch the senior high school poetry class on TV with difficult child 3 (who is NOT senior high school by any means) and they sit there, nodding and saying, "yeah, I get that. Now why didn't MY teachers explain things that way?"
    Part of it is, sometimes the teachers don't understand it much themselves, and as a result can't explain it to the students. And sometimes they DO over-analyse.

    A lovely example - our high school students are right now doing their final exams - Higher School Certificate. A good pass is uni entrance. The first paper was English, last Friday. One of the questions was, "In 'Cosi' by Louis Nowra, explain how Lewis's inner journey develops throughout the play." Now 'inner journey' was a topic that the students worked on as the main theme for their English unit, it was used in the novel, in the play, in poetry and film. The students are encouraged to find 'supplementary material' of their own which can be used as further example of the concept of 'inner journey'. When difficult child 1 did t he exam, the concept was "physical journey". Another topic for difficult child 1 was "the institution" which was also linked to "what is reality?" and so he studied "Truman Show", "Shawshank Redemption" and "Rabbit-Proof Fence".
    But in this year's paper with that question on "Cosi", our local radio station had an interesting demonstration - they got the playwright Louis Nowra in the studio to answer the exam question based on his own play - and he couldn't do it. They had students ringing in to tell him the answer and discuss it on air with him. And of course, the answer is that Lewis learns more about himself and his own prejudices, slowly overcoming them, because of his interactions with the inmates of the asylum with whom he has been hired to work. It's a good play, made into a movie with Toni Collette, Barry Otto and David Wenham (playing a fabulously insane firebug).

    So if the playwright himself doesn't 'get' it, then don't feel too bad for your son. What he probably needs is for it to be made as concrete as possible and as clear as possible. Generally the answers are much simpler than the teachers like to admit.

  13. Mrs Smith

    Mrs Smith New Member

    LOL - Marg, I don't know where you get the energy! I sit with my son too and walk him through it and interpret the confusing language. I'm not sure I do a great job of it though. He ends up having the same reaction as your son. Hopefully over time, it will start to sink in.

    I find the same thing with some teachers. They really have a hard time modifying work for him because I really don't think they get how his mind works (or doesn't work). Unfortunately, he's been stuck with the same teachers for all of middle school. I end up trying to fill in the gaps at home but it's painful for both of us.

    Yes - we've got modified workbooks/textbooks that supposedly breaks down the material but it's in such a confusing way that even I have a hard time figuring out what they want him to do. And then when I try to explain it in a different way, he goes ballistic because it's not the way the teachers want him to do it. I just can't win!
  14. 'Chelle

    'Chelle Active Member

    Thanks Marg. What you describe seems a process with a little more involvement but similar to the suggestion from his psychiatrist. This assignment he's got now, I may try work through that way a bit with him. We pretty much work through them together as it is. As with Josie's son, I just don't think my difficult child will ever get the abstract concepts. The question you used as an example, how his inner journey develops through the play, my difficult child wouldn't have a clue what the question is asking. If he and I are doing it together, I can explain it to him, and he will say he gets what they're asking. He still has a hard time then to figure out from what he's read what the answer is. For example if it had to do with prejudice or bigotry, we might infer from a character saying "they should keep to their place" that the character held a prejudice for a certain group of people. difficult child more than likely wouldn't get that until you pointed it out. He would likely take it to mean that everyone had assigned areas or seats or somewhere they were supposed to stay that had nothing to do with race etc. I just don't see any kind of mapping helping him to understand those things until someone tells him what it's supposed to mean.

    I've yet to meet the teacher, but I doubt he would want to put in the extra time this process would entail to work with difficult child, according to the resource teacher he was furious with difficult child for his stance on not picking a book. The extra work is what the resource room would be for. And difficult child is adamant he does not want to drop french for more english in the resource room. If he doesn't want it, then making him drop french will not make him do the work in resource and will in fact make it harder to get him to work in english at all. This is a boy who will sit on his bed for 8 hours doing nothing (other than lunch and bathroom break) rather than do homework he doesn't want to. Eventually yes, he will do it, but it takes several days of sitting doing nothing and a lot of aggravation on both our parts before he will. How hard I push him now is based on how important I think it is, and how much good it will do him, I just can't face the wars and stress it causes anymore. He's resistant to resource room = does him no good at all. LOL So I'll try steering him to some of this technique on this assignment, and we'll hope for the best. He generally sees this kind of point making, mind mapping, outlining as just more english work he has to do, not as a tool to help himself make it go faster in the long run.

    He did eventually take a book, a very short (160 pages) science fiction thing. But he grumbled when he started about how he hates reading boring books he doesn't like, so I don't know how this will go. He read 22 pages in half an hour last night, so if he'd taken the book 2 weeks ago when he should have he'd have been long done just reading that amount of time each day and still had 2 weeks to work on the synopsis. He now has 5 days to read it and write something. I gave him a talk pointing this out, and he always agrees it was silly of him to act that way, but will it stop him the next book they have to choose? I doubt it LOL.
  15. 'Chelle

    'Chelle Active Member

    "yeah, I get that. Now why didn't MY teachers explain things that way?"

    I totally get this statement. In 9 years my difficult child has had 2 teachers and one aide that actually understood him and his issues and was able to reach him in ways so he got it. Before his diagnosis (up to grade 6) they all treated it as a behavioral thing except his last teacher in grade 5, and 6-9 he's had one teacher(7) who truly got it and his first aide in grade 6. His aide in grade 7 had never worked with a spectrum kid before and had little knowledge on how to and a couple times make situations worse. This year in grade 9 we're not too far in. He likes his teachers, and I'm pretty sure they've all been informed he's Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) with a personal plan, but I don't know how many change things to accomodate him. First report cards come out in 2 weeks, and by then hopefully something will be done for the testing etc., and meet with everyone then. The only thing is, second semester starts mid-Jan. and he has all different teachers, including english. Hopefully will have them have THAT english teacher attend any meetings too.
  16. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    'Chelle, you said, "or example if it had to do with prejudice or bigotry, we might infer from a character saying "they should keep to their place" that the character held a prejudice for a certain group of people. difficult child more than likely wouldn't get that until you pointed it out. He would likely take it to mean that everyone had assigned areas or seats or somewhere they were supposed to stay that had nothing to do with race etc. I just don't see any kind of mapping helping him to understand those things until someone tells him what it's supposed to mean."

    This is exactly how difficult child 1 was, at the beginning of that subject. And so many other 'normal' students too (the bottom of the class ones especially - and teachers often teach to the lowest common denominator). And remember, I said that even the playwright himself could not answer that question.

    But in this case, the answers ARE explained to the kids, it is rehearsed thoroughly, discussed, talked through etc.
    And with difficult child 1, I went through all the work with him as if I were studying it too, so I could understand and help him. He had the teacher working with him so intensively because as things turned out, he only had six weeks in which to completely learn a year's work (thanks to mainstream's stuffup).

    If you talk to the teacher and explain that in this subject, he needs a lot more intense explanation (in detail) and support, plus YOU put in most of that effort (sorry) then maybe you and the teacher can cooordinate.

    difficult child 3 also hates having to read a book for school. He will do it but very like your son. I read the book also (I usually grab it after he's gone to bed) and together we talk about it. If he doesn't 'get' something (a common problem" we talk it through. I do it as a discussion, I ask him what he thinks and then say, "What about [x]?" If he's still not 'getting' it, I will eventually say, "I think what the teacher wants you to notice is [x]."
    Often with difficult child 3 he says, "Surely not..." and wants to talk to his teacher to confirm it. If we can simply note it down on a question sheet, we do (for later conference with teacher) but if he has to understand before he moves on, we TOGETHER talk to the teacher about it at the next opportunity - next day if possible. And this is why the teacher needs to be primed - she needs to understand that this is not a stupid child, or a child being naughty, it is a child who wants to understand but simply lacks the ability to see anything not immediately obvious.

    If you can do this though, the benefits go way beyond the academic - he will rapidly progress in his social understanding. But if the teacher will not make herself available to answer these questions as they arise (and take his need for this seriously) then you have to find another source of information. We often can buy crib notes - 'cheats' if you will (difficult child will know what I mean by this) which will help him shortcut his understanding. A teacher is one authority on the subject; printed material such as crib notes are another he would believe.

    With the "inner journey" stuff, this gets thoroughly explained to the class. They spend most of a year on it in various forms. They get asked, "What do you think we mean by 'inner journey'?" The kids hear the discussion on it, they write essay after essay on it, they are told to find material of their own with a similar theme. difficult child 1 used "Star Wars". They get thoroughly drilled.

    It can be done. With the example you gave, "they should keep to their place" as a hint that the speaker is bigoted, I would also have to explain that to both boys because yes, their first reaction would be the literal meaning. Colloquialisms are really difficult for our boys. But once explained (not only what it means, but how it came to be used in that way - a good dictionary will give you the origins for things like this, so will the 'Net) then the information sticks in their heads.

    That's why the mind mapping has to be done with help, for a lot of the time in the beginning. Only when they've had practice with someone's support, can they have a go for themselves. But without the mind map, even with my help difficult child 1 couldn't write a thing. With it, and with my help, he could do some quite abstract tasks AND understand them to a certain degree. If the task were fairly concrete then a mind map would make it possible to manage entirely on his own.

    With reading a set book, we've often read it together. Maybe difficult child 3 or I will read the dialogue (putting on different voices maybe) while the other reads the plain text. Or if it's two characters talking, we might take turns. We act it as we go and make it as fun as possible.

    Also, you won't get far trying to get him to do this at the end of the day. We have had to make after-hours work sessions very short. But weekends - we set aside a few hours on a weekend day and work intensively with the boys to help them get assignments or homework done. We always then had a big reward to follow - go out for ice cream, or a swim, or a parent-child play session on a computer game. We aimed to do the work early in the day and get as much done as possible, quitting before he got too distressed if we could.

    The language study - we've bought cheap CDROMs to help with language study. difficult child 3's 'thing' is German and when I can, I get him to do the CDROM study to give him a bit of an advantage. But with a lot of his study, especially the subjects he has most trouble with, I learn them with him so I can support his learning.

    It's very intensive at times, and sometimes we buy aids for him (like crib notes and the DVDROM, although THAT was only $10) but we figure it's worth it to get him past the post.

    And remember, you have easy child coming up through the ranks. Whatever you buy for difficult child you can either sell to a student the next year, or keep it for when easy child is studying the same subject later on.

    I bought a lot of art supplies when difficult child 3 was studying art earlier this year. He would get assignments using oil pastels, for example, and not having any in the house made it difficult. He had an assignment using wet paper and watercolours, so while he painted his, I did my own artwork - very different but using similar techniques to the ones set for difficult child 3, but which I'd never thought of trying before. We didn't do it in any sense of competition, more like fellow students working in the same class but each on a different image. And now he's not doing art, I can still dabble because I'm well supplied.

    difficult child 3 said to me one day, "Why are you buying these supplies and doing all this stuff with me?"
    I told him, "Because you're worth it - and because I want to find out about it too."

    I would suggest you book a Learning Team meeting NOW for the new teachers next semester. Maybe book the appointment for the second week of the new semester (or book a second appointment for then) because they need to know FIRST, of his condition and what this means to them as teachers, and SECOND, what to expect and what is expected of them. As part of this, also explain to them your role in working with both your son and the teachers. You are a vital part of your son's Learning Team. So is your son.

    I presume he has an IEP - because if he hasn't, then he should.

    Having to break in new staff is always a steep learning curve, but if they're good at their job they will put in the effort once they understand the need.

  17. TerriH

    TerriH New Member

    A conversation with my son about his reading assignment:

    What did x feel about y? "I don't know".

    Did x like y? "I don't KNOW!"

    Did y hit x with a rock? "Yes"

    Would that make x like him? "I don't know".

    If somebody hit YOU with a rock, would you like him? "No".

    Would it make you angry? "Yes".

    Do you think it made x angry, too? Would it make you like him? (silence. This is HARD!)

    "NO! NOT ONE BIT!"

    Halleluya!!!!!!!!! He GOT it!!!!!!

    Of course, it had to b done again the next time he was stuck......

    With my son, What he does WELL in English USUALLY balances out what he does poorly. It is a shame he did not receive help from day one: that way he would not have to be pulled out of a class he likes.

    My son will ALWAYS be behind when it comes to human motivations. I accept this, and we work on it together.

    He ALSO has an extra period of remedial work to help him translate the words into feelings, but I honestly do not know if that gives him more help that "If it happened to you, how would YOU feel?". He gets A's and B's on his spelling and his reports, and he does poorly on tests covering motivations. So far, it balances out.
  18. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    How did he feel when he 'got it'? Did you high-five him? I find if I reinforce positively like that, difficult child 3 feels really good and it increases his confidence. it's very hard for our kids to trust their gut instinct because in difficult child 3's case, he kept getting told at school that he didn't understand because of his autism, that he would always get it wrong, and so on. He was told this in relation to his complaints to the teacher about bullying, the teacher would question the gang who attacked him and they would all make the same false statement. The teacher would then tell difficult child 3 that because of his autism, he didn't understand that he hadn't really been attacked, he had just fallen over his own feet.
    (Independent witness initially agreed with difficult child 3, then after a day or two, refused to talk at all - he later admitted he'd been threatened into silence).

    Giving our kids the confidence to trust their own increasing knowledge is so important.

    You did good to break it down like that - another question you could have asked is, "Why do you think y hit x with a rock?"
    If you're having trouble, go back to "who, what, where" questions and ease back on the "how" and "why". Lead up to them. These were the last ones difficult child 3 understood - he didn't have a clue when he first started school, he could barely manage "who" and "what".

    Your difficult child is within a couple of months of my difficult child 3. When we were away in June, difficult child 3 had to do his English schoolwork while we were on holidays. For most kids, this would be half a day's work. We saved up the English for a day when we could work intensively - we were actually on the TraNZalpine, the train trip across NZ's South Island. It was a full day trip to go both ways, as we did. We almost had the carriage to ourselves and difficult child 3 was working at one of those small tables they have on these long-distance trains. I could sit with him and talk him through the work. When it comes to spelling and punctuation, difficult child 3 will make a good editor one day. he corrects the teacher. Assonance, alliteration - no worries, once he understood exactly what it means. Haiku - he wrote a beauty, because it involves putting words together to make sense, while counting syllables (difficult child 3 CAN multitask). But when it comes to analysing the story elements, he needs the same sort of help you describe above. But once he 'gets it', he needs less help. For THAT story.

    He finished the exercises by mid-afternoon. He had three breaks on the trip - we twice stopped at the highest point (Arthur's Pass) which was covered in snow and ice, and on the west coast town of Greymouth where we had about an hour to find some lunch. The breaks were still quiet and restful, he had a chance to explore a bit and experience some new things, but nothing too stimulating (other than that marvellous scenery). The environment on the train - it was noisy, but a constant noise (like white noise) which I think made it easier for him to concentrate. I would sit with him and watch him work on the stuff he COULD do - comprehension exercises are really easy sometimes, if it's concrete - you 'word search' and use the text around the word you found, to answer the question - and then I'm there to help if he gets stuck. he gets really panicky with the harder stuff, he hates asking for help because he feels it's cheating, but I keep getting his teacher to reassure him that it's OK.
    And, of course, the reward when he's finished - a high five, knowing it's complete and sometimes a treat.

    With the exercise you did with your son, unless what he 'got' was the answer to be written down, I would have written it on a piece of paper for him, to remind him he did get to that answer. Because he WILL forget, it's fairly likely. But each time he will get to it quicker.

    It's really intensive, hard work. Take time to reward yourself, too. Often a reward for difficult child 3 is the same reward for me, we live in each other's pockets. He loves coffee (we only give him decaf) and so I have a cappuccino and he has a flat white (hates anything with a creamy texture), as a reward. But the hard work is worth it when you see his skills and confidence slowly building.