Monday, June 27, 2016

Alphabetical Order

Midyear is upon us, and in a few weeks Little A enters the third grade. His curriculum will certainly be modified, but with continued hard work by both student and teachers, hopefully he will not lag too far behind his typical peers. Apart from academic progress, he needs improvements in behaviour and social interaction.

We recently received the results of a most thorough assessment of his current capabilities and weaknesses. The written report was packed with technical jargon and testing statistics, with the end result telling us what we more or less already knew, but was still a blow to see on paper.

Little A is in the moderate part of the autism spectrum, nonverbal but able to communicate through gestures, writing, and typing. He is also intellectually impaired, and possibly has ADHD in addition to sensory integration dysfunction.

I'd like to think news like that, presented in the form of a text-dense, half-inch thick evaluation report in small font would floor any parent, but then perhaps I am less strong than the average special needs mum.

No matter the results, we must soldier on. Thankfully we have found the perfect school for Little A, and despite all the setbacks there are improvements, slowly but surely.

Just this afternoon, on finishing a most inspiring book which might still be the only autism resource title written by a Filipino for fellow autism parents, I checked on Little A, who was playing quietly in his room.

To my surprise, I found that he had unearthed an old set of word cards, and arranged a number of them in alphabetical order, writing in the letters that were not represented on the floor in between the carefully laid out cards.

A day or so later, at the toy store, he lined up a row of animals. I asked if he didn't want to group them by type as he usually does (jungle, savannah, farm, ocean), but he shook his head firmly.

As ever, I took a photo. It was only on closer inspection much later that I saw the animals, too, were lined up alphabetically.

He has been attending summer school for three hours a day over the past two weeks, but I only enrolled him in Catechism and Filipino Language lessons, as well as his regular Speech and Occupational Therapy. Still, in between classes or when I take him to school early, he joins the pre-Grade 3 class. This must be where he learned to alphabetize, albeit indirectly. Upon asking the teachers, none of them claim to have worked on this skill with my son, so perhaps he's also just taken it upon himself. I can never tell what goes on in my child's mind, but I do know there is a lot happening in there. Maybe one day he will be able to articulate it in a way we can all understand.

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