Wednesday, November 30, 2011

nothing but wonderful


Smiling at the sink, I look over at Isaac.  His face is smooshed against the cold kitchen window, glancing out at the white driveway and backyard.  "CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?  IT'S SNOW!"  I can believe it.  And yes, I see it.

To me, snow can be a blessing, and it can be a challenge.  It is a chance to cuddle up with a cozy blanket, some coffee, and loved ones around.  It means having to get up an extra 15 minutes early so I have time to bundle up my sons to get them off to school in time.  It means more work, more time spent.  Beauty and time on the couch always costs something, I take the snow with a grain of salt (and sprinkle a few actual cupfuls on my walkway to melt the rest).

To Isaac, it's nothing but wonderful.  He sees the miraculous white powder floating from the sky.  He watches it cover the ground and thinks about all those snowflakes accumulating so he can make snow balls, snow men, and other snow creations.  (I know this, because I can see it in his eyes.)

I take the opportunity to get some practical wisdom in, as I usually do.  "Isaac," I say, wiping my hands on the dish cloth and grabbing my cup of coffee.  "Did you know that all that snow is made of lots and lots and LOTS of teeny-tiny snowflakes?  Snowflakes that are all different and float down and land on top of each other?"  He looks at me and raises his eye brows in an exaggerated fashion.  "Mom.  That.  Is.  So.  AWESOME."  I purse my lips together to stifle a laugh.  "I know!"  He turns to smoosh an excited face against the window again.  It is silent.  We watch the snow together.

I look at those billions of flakes and think of their uniqueness.  I look at my son, and I think of his excitement, his joy, his passion about the things (like snow) that so many of us have lost, forgotten, or just chose to dislike because of it's inconvenience or it's difficulty.  The snow brings a new season.

This is the season when the quiet comes, the snow brings a peaceful hush to creation, and we can listen.  We can watch.  We can see how even in the seasons we may not enjoy or respect, we can always...always, find a reason to be thankful for it.   A reason to rejoice.  Because in the middle of all that discomfort and dislike is growth...happening under the surface, behind the scenes, and come spring...we will see the miracle that took place in the quiet cold.  Underground, underneath, and all around.

This season for Isaac has been just that.  Beneath the struggles and the chill of the unknown has come amazing growth...and unlike the seasons I know, HIS season has just started to flourish.  So, with the snow...for me...for Isaac...comes nothing but wonderful.

And yes, I believe it:  I can see it.  And I am amazed.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

letters and numbers and words...oh my!

Isaac reading Dr. Suess's ABC's at 22 months (notice speech delay doesn't inhibit the reading)

Hyperlexia: The precocious ability to read words without prior training in learning to read typically before the age of 5.  First named and scientifically described in 1967, it can be viewed as a superability in which word recognition ability goes far above expected levels of skill. Some hyperlexics, however, have trouble understanding speech.

Hello, Isaac.  

For some reason, this term hasn't come into the picture until now, and honestly, it's a dead ringer when it comes to Isaac's passions and quirks.  

This past week I went to an Open House at the Julie Billiart School in Beachwood.  As I listened to the principal there describe the history of the school, the programs used to teach math, reading, science, etc.  I was caught by an answer to a question another parent posed:  "How do you handle children who on are the spectrum who have very advanced reading abilities?"  The principle nodded.  "Well, yes, we have children who display hyperlexia here, so we screen and test to see their comprehension in comparison to their rote reading level, then we go from there to determine the best path of learning..."

It was like a lightbulb went off in my head.  I wrote the term down on my notes, determined to study it more at home.  

Every medical journal article, every entry, every part of this Hyperlexia was like someone had taken Isaac into a room for a couple of hours, observed him and wrote the definition.  

"Despite hyperlexic children's precocious reading ability, they may struggle to communicate. Often, hyperlexic children will have a precocious ability to read but will learn to speak only by rote and heavy repetition, and may also have difficulty learning the rules of language from examples or from trial and error, which may result in social problems. Their language may develop using echolalia, often repeating words and sentences. Often, the child has a large vocabulary and can identify many objects and pictures, but cannot put their language skills to good use. Spontaneous language is lacking and their pragmatic speech is delayed. Hyperlexic children often struggle with Who? What? Where? Why? and How? questions. Between the ages of 4 and 5 years old, many children make great strides in communicating.
The social skills of a child with hyperlexia often lag tremendously. Hyperlexic children often have far less interest in playing with other children than do their peers."

As a parent of a child on the autism spectrum, or child with ANY type of dealy, having one more way to help describe your child is a gift.  There is a way you can identify with them; another way you can say to yourself, "my child is truly amazing."  Plus, you have a way to help the child grow and learn, using this understanding of what they deal with.  I'm pumped.  

I downloaded a few old movies of Isaac when he was a baby, a toddler...watching him play with letters hours out of the day...watching him read books by himself in his crib...reading stories back to me that we read through together once...watching him recite 1-10 in Spanish, then German...then makes sense. 

They say autism is like a puzzle, and each child is just another piece of the big picture.  I'm loving that I found just another puzzle piece for Isaac today--another brilliant and beautiful piece.  

What a treasure.  

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

favorite booty

I feel like a pirate. 

After accompanying Bumble Bee (of the Transformers kind) and a Super Puppy (complete with cape and ears) on a night of door-to-door solicitations for candy on October 31st...I have confiscated the booty.  

No, I'm not THAT mean.  

I have hidden the treasure in a safe place, only to be tapped into when healthy portions of dinner have been consumed, and/or when deserving behavior or exceptional attitudes have been displayed.  (This includes Mommy pirate working out, and earning 2 of her faves:  3 Musketeers miniatures...ARGHH.)

But, being a mommy pirate means my children have inevitably inherited pirate genes.  

"Mom...where's the candy?"  Ethan asks me at dinner last night after his plate was literally licked clean.  

I smirked and raised my eye brows in a challenge of wills.  (Some pirates have been known to use pistols or brandish swords...I use my wits).  

Isaac chimes in.  "Mom, can I have some candy too?"  (His plate not clean AT ALL.)

"Well," I begin, folding my hands together under my chin, "it's in a safe place."  

Both boys give me looks as if to say, "hey...wait a minute...."  

Ethan does what he does best.  He whispers to Isaac to hunt for the candy while I'm cleaning up the dishes.  

"Aha!"  I spin and look at them at the table.  (I'm milking this for all it's worth, folks).  "No hunting for the'll never find it anyway..." I say this but I'm not so sure.  When my sons work together to find something, they are a formidable force.  

I manage to get them to trust me.  I will give them choices of candy for a treat, only if they let me keep the hiding place secret.  Deal, they say.  We shake on it.  

I sit with them and savor the moment as they savor their sweets.

No need to walk the plank.  There's peace among the ranks...for now.  

As much fun as it was to dress up on that chilly night, it is much more fun to use the candy gathered to teach lessons.  To trust Mom, to eat your dinner, and to remember than sometimes, it's the little things that are the sweetest treasures.

Ethan and Isaac are two of my faves.