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Just stay the course?

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    Just stay the course?

    I have so many questions and hardly know where to start. I have used MP with my 11-year-old NT daughter for the last 3 years and love, love, love the program. This is the first full year using SC with my 9-year-old son with autism. We started with SC-B last year and only got part of the way through before we switched him to a program that was developed for him at a neurodevelopmental school we took him to for testing. That worked great until we could no longer make the monthly payments for their services. I learned a lot from them and have just incorporated what I can into his day along with using SC-C.

    Because he was so low verbally, both expressively and receptively, I kind of froze and didn't do anything with him until 2 years ago. I had no idea what to do or how to do it. All I really knew was that I did not want to send him to public school. I read to him, tried to teach him songs and played with him and that was about the extent of his "schooling." He has had speech as well since he was 3.

    He now has 100% receptive language and ever increasing expressive language. He can make me understand anything he's trying to say and I'd say about 50% of the time those outside the family can understand him as well. He is lazy and inattentive a lot of the time, which makes it hard to get his work done. He knows all of his uppercase letters, but has difficulty with the sounds. Also, when we work on alphabet flashcards he runs through the alphabet in his mind until he gets to that letter and then he says it - almost like he has all the letter shapes memorized and "recognizes" it when he gets to it. Does that make him more of a visual learner? Should I encourage or discourage that in any way?

    I hope that this all makes sense. Sometimes I feel like I'm just treading water out here by myself, not sure if what I'm doing is the right thing, whether I'm helping or hurting my sweet boy. We have seen great strides in the last 6-8 months so sometimes I feel like maybe I'm expecting too much too soon.

    I have gleaned much from just lurking on this board for the last couple of months, but I also feel like I have put my son at such a disadvantage by not starting to teach him earlier and that breaks my heart.

    Thanks for any advice, and for just being here for Mama's like me.

    Kelly

    Four older children (ages 24-20)

    DD - 11 - MP6
    DS - 9 - SC-C

    #2
    Hi, Kelly.

    First, you cannot do anything about the past, as you know, except use it to propel you to be more intentional in the future. His behavioral challenges make this difficult, so I would focus on a more effective way to gain and sustain his attention. Some here have recommend medical therapy, a book entitled Finally Focused, ABA or BCBA interventions, or simple strategies at home. These will include things you did not need for your other five children, but they may be very helpful for him:

    - Create a good daily routine to include sensory breaks if these are beneficial, the Premack principle (something he does not enjoy followed by something you know he enjoys), good snacks, physical exercise that might include vertical jumping on a mini trampoline, minimal screens, and language-rich leisure that might include a board game with his sibling, a chat with Dad, or listening to his poetry CDs from Level B while playing.

    ​​​​​- Post the routine in a visual, simple way he can follow. Use photos or drawings to depict the routine. Overview this every day before you begin, so he knows what will happen and what is expected.

    - Be sure all extraneous noise is kept to a minimum during his lessons.

    - Provide rewards or incentives if these do not detract from your intent.

    - Encourage interactions with others, if only to give you a little mental break, such as with neighbors on a walk or people at church.

    - Have a set start/stop time for school work if this frees him from feeling overwhelmed or "trapped" by expectations.

    - Use a timer, clock, or your posted schedule to keep things moving quickly. Try not to be distracted or delayed by his efforts to stall.

    - Enlist your other homeschooled child in whatever areas of strengths you observe in her. Maybe she is good at playing games or doing crafts with him, taking him outside to play, reading his SC B or C read-alouds to him, or just helping you with household chores to free you to spend more 1:1 time with him.

    You may already be doing some or all of these, but they can all factor into the success of a day or week.

    As for his mental rehearsal of the alphabet, you might nudge him to a more rapid recall with a visual alphabet chart or by timing him to encourage a faster response. You can also teach this out of context by pointing to a limited set of letters, e.g., m-n-o-p, and saying, "Show me 'p'." Then give him a flash card with "p" and ask "What letter is this?" In other words, teach isolated letters apart from the alphabet song or chant to create more automaticity in letter identification and to release him from over-reliance on the song or chant.


    In SC C, which week of lessons are you currently teaching?

    It sounds as if he is making gains with good receptive language and improved expressive language!

    "Stay the course" seems good advice with some quick, necessary adjustments for behavior as indicated above to improve the effectiveness of your teaching and to improve the engagement of his learning. You don't want him to become manipulative or a foot-dragger every time he sees his school work, so if you can work on efficiency and attention through some of the approaches above you may see swifter gains.



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      #3
      My little guy is finishing up SC B. He wants to scroll through the sounds the letters make alphabetically, too. It has really helped to do what Cheryl said in drawing out 6 letter flashcards and telling him to slap /p/, then slap /l/, etc. I have to remind him to look at them all, then I draw my finger across the 2 rows of 3 letters in a left-to-right reading track. Gradually, I fade the reminders as I see him achieving accuracy. Now, sometimes I notice initial success and errors on the 2nd run through. If that's the case, I start pointing to the letter again to have him say the sound. As we clean them up, I have him hand them to me in order by their letter name (instead of sound). For instance, I'll say, "Hand me 'en.' What comes after N? That's right: O. Where is O? Okay, what comes after O? Yes, P! Where is P?" Oh, and my final thought is that when my son gets hung up on his arch-nemesis letters lowercase i and u, I trace over the shape, and within seconds it comes to him.

      I really want to get sandpaper letters in print. The numbers totally helped for my little guy. They're the only symbols he's writing. I mean, the kid can't even draw a happy face, but he loves writing 1s and 3s, and he enjoys tracing 2 and 4. I credit so much of that with tracing sandpaper numbers. They say when you can form it in gross motor, you can recognize it so much better. Try having him form the letters with his arms at the shoulder level or elbow level (writing in the air).

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        #4
        Hi Kelly,

        I don’t have much to add, I just wanted to encourage you to keep at it!

        We have been using SC since I started SCB with my son when he was 4. We recently rewatched those initial videos that were part of the first week (asking child about their family, favourite pet etc). We were shocked. So much progress! I wish they weren’t so long so I could post them on forum...one of these days I might try to condense them. Cheryl’s teaching tips are so helpful. Keep at it and before you know it you’ll start getting some confidence with the whole special needs homeschooling thing!

        One thing that has been really helpful for us with making things as visual as possible is buying a big double sided whiteboard (that I can flip). We use it all the time, it makes things easier for me to quickly add a little visual into our day without needing to get down cardboard and the art supplies (I tend to get bogged down in detail). One side stays mostly unchanged with alphabet, picture card, something we are learning (like vowels at the moment) and a basic visual schedule for our week, the other side can be flipped for more temporary things.

        Blessings!
        Sarah

        Aussies from Sydney, Australia
        Miriam 9yo Latina Christiana, Greek Myths, Poppers Penguins, Christian Studies 1, R+S 4 (also IEW Phonetic Zoo, IEW Poetry Memorisation, HWT Cursive)
        Jonny 6.5yo (Special Needs) SC Level 1
        Elissa 3.5yo SC Level B (for preschool)
        Thomas 12 months

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