8 Jan 2007

The Implicit Learning of an Autistic Boy

Now I've got that (previous post) off my chest, I can get back to normal.

I'm still drawing loads of tiny, detailed pictures as requested by Duncan. He did however, ask me to stick 2 A4 pages together to draw a really big rocket, which he told me to roll up round a cardboard tube. I then had to tape the rocket to the back of his shirt, and he pretended to blast off and whiz around. I knew then that he'd had the final product in his mind all along, he just fed me little bits of information as needed.

I had been wondering for a while how to persuade Duncan to draw for himself. He has always become upset when I've tried before, he wanted the finished products to look exactly like what's in his mind, and he reckons I'm more likely to achieve that than he is. But I just had this great idea; I could encourage him to draw, whilst I'm making whatever it is he wants. It worked right away. As I was drawing a picture of some 'fire bursts' (like those emanating from Buzz Lightyear's laser weapon), he drew a few pictures of our faces, then he drew round his hands and feet, then he copied some writing, then he spontaneously drew his own laser fire-bursts which he was so happy with, that I was asked to seal it with sticky tape, cut it out, and stick it onto his sleeve. His writing is so precise. I was amazed, I mean, he hasn't picked up a pen to do anything since he left school.

On Sunday I overheard him running water in the kitchen sink and muttering to himself that he would 'clean it'. I went in and watched him rinse a cloth and use it to wipe our (newly painted) wall, where he'd written, most beautifully, 'Big Antz.' (He's been watching a trailer for the film Antz quite a lot recently.) I had to turn away to hide the huge, proud smile on my face, and get the disapproving look in place.

Well, we had a discussion and he's said he will not write on walls, just on paper. We'll see. I'll have to buy water soluble marker pens again, I think.

He absorbs information from many sources, but the main way right now, is the PC. He likes to watch Youtube films; recently he's enjoyed films people have uploaded of their pets, especially their dogs. He plays lots of CD Roms and uses children's websites. He was listening to a story on Cbeebies yesterday; Don't Wake the Baby. He thinks this is hilarious and always follows the words with his finger as they are read. He did a quick Google Image search just after, typing in the word baby. He can type loads of words; Toy Story (and all the character names), 101 Dalmatians (he copied it from a book the 1st few times, but it's off by heart now), Pinocchio, (ditto), Ace Monkey, Adiboo, Magic Roundabout, and of course, all the Thomas the Tank Engine names.

We have so many little games we play together. He instigates most of them and tells me what character I'm playing. Quite often I'm Auntie Mable and he's Pippin the dog, or I'm the evil emperor Zurg and he's Buzz Lightyear. (Him - You killed my father. Me - No Buzz, I am your father. Him (pretending to fall down the stairs) - Aaaaaagh!

We still make lots of little home-made books; he, dictating the story and I, illustrating it according to his instructions, He then learns how to read them.

On Saturday, we walked to the postbox together. He put my letter in his little backpack and we went off, hand-in-hand along the road. We chatted as we went, and an old man greeted us, saying 'hello'. I said hello back, and Duncan instantly helloed him too!

He is progressing so well, and in a way that works fantastically for all of us. I was wondering whether Lady and Thomas should go back into school, so I could have more time to focus on Duncan. He is calmer and much easier to look after when it's just the 2 of us. Gordon often suggests that we might all benefit if Duncan was home-educated alone.

A friend of Lady's came over to play with her on Friday. When her mum was picking her up, she was talking about how much homework her children get, especially her 10 year old son. (He's doing the 11+ next year, that most unfair judge of children's abilities and future expectations, that is still so much in favour in Northern Ireland.) That isn't what I want for them. I don't see the point in a system that has the children in school for almost all of the day, then sets homework to eat into what little time the family has together. I'd reckon that many children who do well at school, do so because their parents put so much time and effort into helping with the homework.

Anyway, I just believe that to continue as we are is best for everyone. I'm happy that all 3 children are growing up together every day. They are such good friends, and I don't want to separate Duncan from his siblings. It's good for him having them around and vice versa. Today, they were having a great time playing 'Toy Story'. Duncan was just one of the gang. I also still think that the children will all get a better education at home.


Maddy said...

Certainly seem to have the 'imaginative play' going there.
Good for you.
Best wishes

Sharon McDaid said...

Thanks, McEwan! Most of his imaginative play is based on TV and films. He can follow me when I veer off script too, as long as I keep it fun and let him correct his silly Mummy when we wants to.

kristina said...

Implicit, but explicitly clear a lot of learning is going on (for all 3 of yours)-----I had not even thought of it to try YouTube videos on Charlie. He's not into the computer at all except for watching the occasional movie trailor---wonder if I can find things he likes (the ocean, people diving or swimming) and look at those. Charlie tried to "help" me clean up a mess he'd made (it was a bit more than marker on the wall)---his motor skills are such that it's hard for him to grab a lot of things in a big fist but he tried so hard.

Thanks for so many ideas!