Guest Author - Bonnie Sayers
Recently my son Nicholas, who is considered high functioning within the Autism Spectrum mentioned something to me that was fascinating. Just last weekend we were at the Mall making the rounds of a few favorite stores. One of them is the Discovery Channel Store, where we finally found the DVD for Alien Planet.
The following day we had some errands to run and headed to Walgreens and then Rite Aid. While in the car I asked Nicholas what he was thinking about since he seemed to be far off in his own world. His response to me was that he was rewinding in his brain the scenes from the Alien Planet DVD. He then proceeded to tell me that his brain was like a video.
My son is a visual thinker just like Temple Grandin mentioned in her book, Thinking in Pictures. Here is Chapter One from Thinking in Pictures. These are Teaching Tips for Children and Adults with Autism by Temple Grandin.
A few weeks into the new school season Nicholas came home and stated that he wanted a schedule for home like the teacher has one on the door for school. I searched to no avail at several stores for something like this. I ended up purchasing poster board at Walgreens. It seems Nicholas wants to know exactly what time he should do his homework and when we go to the library.
I have been a list person for as long as I can remember. While attending high school in the late 1970s I kept a notebook for every school day listing what I wore to school. I wanted to make sure I did not repeat the same pants or shirt for a few weeks and thought this was the best method to keep track of what I wore on a daily basis.
As an adult I kept this habit up for awhile, but then due to time restraints I stopped keeping track on paper. I have contemplated with the idea of starting a log for my children to note what they are wearing to school each day. Over the years my lists have expanded from my experience with Consumer Credit Counseling Services. They had me keep a chart on where my money was being spent. I utilized an Analysis Pad with columns for various items.
When my children were younger I had a page for all recycling information, rebates and coupons saved at the store, how much we spent on fast food, and so forth. Well it seems Nicholas is following in my footsteps creating lists for his books, what time he will read books each day and he is writing his own Goosebumps books.
Just today he was viewing some shows on National Geographic Channel about roller coasters and the notepad was utilized to create his own roller coasters. One was a metal shark contraption that has the riders go inside to view an aquarium with real live shark, but they go through too fast to really see them up close.
Nicholas also keeps a notebook containing all the episodes of Teen Titans he has watched. A notebook is always nearby so he can take notes and keep his lists and drawings organized. We have an entire bookcase of spiral pads with all his drawings. The texture of the paper is important, not too thin for his writings. He also will not draw on both sides of the paper.
Nicholas and I have started watching the Food Network at 8 pm every night. This coming week Emerill Live will be doing a Cooking with Kids series, which Nicholas is excited about. Now he points out all the toys that have to do with cooking being advertised in commercials, like the Cooking Fountain and one is for S'mores.
Usually on the drive to the weekly social skills and feeding therapy appointments the conversation focuses on jobs and getting paid. Nicholas cannot wait to get a job and make money. He asked me recently if being an Animal Scientist will get paid like a job. This is what he wants to do, although today he switched gears and wants to design roller coasters. Mostly his interest is in animals and weather topics.
Nicholas likes to watch Discovery Channel and sometimes the Travel Channel. One time he viewed a show on a family that had a houseboat, which was fascinating to him.
Since I have asthma Nicholas knows we will not have any cats, so he is looking forward to the day he can live on his own and obtain a cat. He likes to peruse adoption sites at the library and make lists of the cats that are available. He does not really grasp that these cats will not be around in eight years.
I have explained to Nicholas what is involved in the upkeep of an apartment, like utilities, phone, cable and doing laundry, putting gas in a car and buying groceries. We drive past a section of a town that has many car dealerships, so Nicholas looks for the vehicle he will want to buy someday and then quizes me on the cost of these cars. He is interested in trucks and points out what he likes whenever we are out and about.
Nicholas has no interest in whether his shirt and pants match before going off to school. These issues make no sense to him since he thinks no one should bother dealing with that stuff. I keep wondering when he will start worrying about his personal hygiene, but that seems a long way off at this point.
The other night we were at the library when a friend and his sister sat at the table near me and spotted me. I heard them say there is Nicholas's mother, so I pointed to the computer Nicholas was at, and he turned around and waved to the siblings. Then he went over to ask the boy if he needed any help with his math homework. It was so impressive to see him assisting in this manner. The boy said no thanks and Nicholas was content with that answer and went back to the computer.
On the one hand Nicholas is very anxious and wants to hurry up and be a teenager. At the library today we read about the Teen Council having some events coming, so I asked about the age requirement for the telescope night and they said we could say he is eleven. So it seems that eleven is the starting age for this teen council. I do not even consider ten to be a pre-teen, maybe I am off base.
Then the other side is a kid that has no interest in bathing or brushing his hair so it looks decent. Putting on a coat in the morning and heading out the door with the collar half in and out does not register to him. He really sees no reason why his finger nails or toenails should be cut. I have no idea if he would do these on his own when he is old enough and wants to live on his own. His sole motivation to live in his own place is to have a cat.
Kids do say the darndest things and one who is on the Autism Spectrum has a wealth of knowledge stored in their brain and sometimes it is shared with a parent to help them along this road in life.
Stocking stuffers for children with Autism
An impression of autism from a kid on the Spectrum
Social Skills Assessment
Lets take a shower poster
Having fun with Idioms
Educational Autism Tips for Families 71 page resourceful ebook for families entering the school system with a recent autism diagnosis. Find out what issues take place over the course of a school day and meet these challenges head on.