Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Tiny Tid Bit About A Tiny Brother

Cole at three years old, the speech didn't improve, and he seemed to wonder through the neighborhood, unable to communicate, and without fear. I remember him standing on the edge of a building roof, looking over, and really unaware of the danger that he was in. At 3 1/2 Cole was started in an early learners speech program. He rode a special bus, and was involved with other children his age for twice a week. I kept him in a normal preschool as well, hoping that the socialization would help. I remember his Christmas Concert, standing alone, pretty oblivious to the other children around him. At 5 he started regular kindergarten, but was pulled out of the class for speech and language. He struggled with sitting still, fitting in, and getting along with the other children. By seven, and second grade, we found a wonderful teacher that helped Cole progress. It was a time for math facts, and memorization was something that Cole was good at. This year he excelled in timed math facts, addition and subtraction. He still didn't socialize much, but instead seemed to play alone a lot on the playground, usually on the monkey bars. He was really good on the monkey bars. During his eighth year, third grade, he was lucky to have a great male teacher. For the first time he identified with a male figure in his life. This man had a really structured class and Cole seemed to thrive with the structure, firm discipline associated with this room. It was becoming more evident that his physical skills were behind. He couldn't keep up with the other children on the playground with things like kick ball, baseball, and four square. Quite often he would leave the games frustrated and angry. This was about the last year for organized team sports. He had tried soccer and t-ball, but really couldn't stay up with the challenge of a fast moving game. He started running and swimming instead, where he seemed to do better.

Now he has speech therapy, pulled out for writing skills and comprehension, as well as meets as a group for social skills. They play games, role play, and work on getting along. He is involved with the neighborhood scout group - with wonderful leaders that understand him. They have lowered their expectations on requirements for merit badges for him, but instead concentrate on his social skills with the other boys. We have gone to physical therapy, trying to stimulate those deep nerves and muscles, hoping to help his high sensitivity to certain textures, tastes, and sounds. He has recently been graded at about a 6 year old level for gross motor skills. This explains his propensity to trip, stumble, and even struggle riding a bike.

Since a small age he has loved to be wrapped up tightly in a blanket - like a burrito - we called it. He seems to like the feeling of all his body parts bound together as one. He can lay like this for a long time, which at first surprised us, being such an active boy. But, in later reading, we learned that this was pretty typical for autistic kids, and further studies have even proved this theory. (something about putting kids in large hammocks, that were used for milking cows.)

Cole has always been very sensitive. He feels sad easily, and is very sensitive to sad siblings, sad movies, often crying. He is extremely kind hearted. Never means to be mean or hurtful. Sometimes he doesn't realize that his actions might misinterrupted.

He covers his ears with loud sounds, or too many sounds. He gags at the feel of the inside of his pumpkin. He smells most foods before he eats them, and if he doesn't think it smells good he won't even try it. He was slow potty training, almost the age of 8 by the time he wouldn't have an accident during the day. He still struggles getting dressed alone, can't handle hard buttons or snaps, and just recently learned to tie his shoes.

He memorizes well, often long scripts for the school plays. He memorizes cartoon and movie dialogs.
He loves his dog, and most animals. He learned to snow ski at about age 8.

Takes everything literally. Everything is black and white. Very focused on time, and scheduled. Not sandals, shoes. Not bare feet, my feet. Run to the store - he was putting on his tennis shoes. Something promised is never forgotten, even if 5 days later. Not almost 5:00, it is 4:58. That is the best way to communicate with him also. Very concrete, precise words. He also needs time to listen, and process, so waiting for an answer is sometimes a long wait. But, people are learning, and giving him a chance to answer. He knows his school schedule, every minute, every recess, every special class. A change in the schedule is hard, especially with a substitute teacher.

That's all I can think of for now.

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