In an earlier post, I shared my concerns that Stacey, a kindergarten student, might have both a reading and language disability. I have also wondered if she is on the high end of the autism spectrum. Although I have not completed an informal evaluation yet, I did have a window of opportunity to explore a few of the red flags I’ve seen.
One red flag has been her repetitive behavior which has been resistant to intervention. “We” were playing a computer game, which means she is repeating the same sequence of events over and over, ready to yank the device from my reach if I start to speak. I have been well trained not to touch ANYTHING. She usually tells me to close my eyes, and surprise! She has created the same image! I’ve already tried to coax her into new pathways, but she has not been interested. This past Saturday, I suggested she try another color and expected her to ignore me or pull away. Instead, Stacey stared at the screen and then looked at me. I could tell that she did not understand what I had said, so I broke my suggestion into two shorter sentences. Stacey still didn’t know what “gold” was so I tentatively pointed toward the gold. She actually tried my suggestion! (And not knowing “gold” isn’t a red flag.) Bottom line: I still have concerns about her ability to process verbal information but she was willing to leave a well-worn path. Given the instability in her life, this “rigidity” could be a defense and even a comfort to Stacey. Perhaps she is now feeling secure enough to vary her behavior?
A related red flag has been Stacey’s apparent unresponsiveness to verbal interactions if they aren’t paired with actions or in a familiar context. Stacey wanted to hang some pictures on the door and struggled a bit when asking me for assistance. I tore off a strip of tape but left the roll with her because I knew she’d want to experiment. She called me, frustrated with the tape. I showed her how pulling straight down was too hard, then showed her how to tilt the tape while pulling. Stacey got it instantly! That is a skill even older kids can’t manage. Way to go, Stacey!
Still to come: Stacey has broken the alphabetic code! Woohoo!