Friday, 14 February 2014

Valentines- You Have To See This!!

Yesterday I set about a dreaded task with Jack, one that I will admit, I put off as long as possible.  VALENTINES.  As in school valentines- writing your name 26 times valentines.  This is war, or it has been for the past several years.  And frankly, we don’t even get a class list anymore, so we have to leave the “to” spot blank- seems so impersonal and just cheesy- so even mommy lacked motivation on this one.

Jack has never been a fan of fine motor activities.  In fact, when he was little, I always felt like I was doing something wrong, not making coloring enticing enough, because he avoided it more than any child I had met in my nannying days.  And as a formerly (and sometimes still) avid colorer, I just didn’t get it.  When we went in for his initial evaluation and they told me he was significantly behind in fine motor, I totally thought I was to blame.  Maybe I didn’t push it hard enough?  My feelings on that all changed when I started volunteering in Jack’s kindergarten class- watching the little 5 year old girls dot their I’s with hearts and be done with activities about 15 minutes before Jack (but also 10 minutes before the other boys).  It wasn’t me, it was him.  He was really good at avoiding it too- “mommy you show me”, “you do one, and then I will”.  I bought it hook line and sinker, and then he fled before it was his turn. 

In first grade part of the plan for Jack has been to take some of the pressure off of his writing.  He has a keyboard, he has a scribe, and it has helped him catch up academically quite a bit.  It took away the thing he tries so hard to avoid- it’s out of the equation, and as a result he is right on level for spelling and reading, which was not the case a year ago.  That being said, when we do spelling activities at night, my gloves quite often still come off.  His special educator designs special activities for us to choose from, they are often sensory activities.  For instance, we write his spelling words on paper that is on top of a piece of burlap, or write his words on a piece of paper that is taped to the wall.  Or he writes the words on daddy’s back or on the rug.  This has helped to a certain extent, although I’m not going to lie, he still avoids it when he can. 

When I approached him about Valentines (planes themed of course) and told him he needed to write his name a bunch of time he initially threw a fit.  I explained to him that if he wanted to attend his school party he needed to do his valentines, or the kids’ feelings would be hurt.  Blah.  I told him he might not get a valentine cookie if he had not done his cards- bam, that started us off.  My kids- extremely motivated by food J

He started out haphazardly, almost scribbling on these tiny pieces of paper.  One of his biggest challenges is control- and this manifests itself when his letters are huge and sloping down the paper.  Forming small letters has been so difficult for him- we draw boxes to put the letters in, write lines for them to stay above, but it is just really tough.

So here is how they started out….

I told him to try and make the letters smaller so the kids could see who the card was from….

So. Much. Better---- he started getting angry and frustrated when the letters were too big- you can see below that he started stabbing a card with the pencil.  But then he did the most amazing thing (no prompting).  He erased his mistake and fixed it!  He calmed himself down enough to realize there was a solution, took care of it, and moved on.  Ummm, hello???  For him to do this, in relation to fine motor, something he detests, is amazing!!!  Wish I could show his pre-K teacher and OT now!

I know that for many parents of kids Jack's age this looks very elementary and his writing may look very messy.  That's why I am posting these cards- he genuinely struggles with this, as many children with autism do.  This is after years of private OT, school OT, mommy OT, etc.  And this is huge progress- I am so proud of him. 

1 comment:

  1. Hey, I think I'm with you on that. :) Nice insights