* Christopher and me: changes

For those of you who haven’t followed my blog, I’ve spent a lot of time working with Christopher, my nephew on the autism spectrum (aka A Sweet Dude). When Christopher lived here a couple of years ago, he had to put something in his mouth, preferably his finger. At that time, we replaced it with a neckband and chewie.

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On his recent summer stay, I noticed his new replacement behavior. As Christopher has matured, and most likely in response to strong criticism, he has replaced chewing with hand movements, typically flexing his hand open and shut. He doesn’t try to hide those movements and seems unaware of them. I’ve seen a major increase in flexing when he’s anxious. However, this action could be hidden by a desk or table, which may reduce scrutiny by others.

Christopher’s cool dude look! Missing this sweetie so much!

* Christopher and me: update

It’s been ages since I updated you all on my tutoring sessions with Christopher, my nephew on the autism spectrum.  Christopher continues to work hard, flying in the house eagerly after a long day at school.  He has enough energy for both of us!

Great progress on vocabulary:  The number of unfamiliar words we encounter per session can be daunting, but with continual chipping away, using Quizlet and “natural” conversations, Christopher is steadily moving forward.  By “natural” conversations, I mean anything related to his fascination with all things Bowser and Donkey Kong.  Did you know these video characters can be sinister, peer at others, have jagged claws, and bolt away from enemies?  Christopher enjoys thinking of ways to include the vocabulary words so that he can safely talk about Bowser without straying “off task.”  Clever young man.

Improved word recognition has led to improved reading and listening comprehension, but we have miles to go before he is on grade level.  On the other hand, his improving language skills will eventually bring him close to that goal.  We are still progressing through the language-based Tasks of Problem-Solving, after which I’ll need to decide on next steps.  Christopher has come a LONG way since this past summer; he now answers 10 complex questions on problem scenarios with about 80% accuracy, depending upon his focus and familiarity with the topic.

A one-track mind:  Christopher asked me today, “Why is it bad to talk about one thing?”  We had a delightful discussion of conversational skills and his preference for lots of Mario and little “active.”  Did you know that “active” makes you hot and cold and that everyone doesn’t like active?  I certainly agreed with him there.  Christopher is at a stage where he recognizes how his narrow interests affect his social standing.  Fortunately, he has found a couple of kiddos who share his interests and dislike of “active.”  He is searching for ways to connect with others, so I asked what he might talk about at school tomorrow.  (Hint: We have winter storm Helena barreling in our direction.)  I can guarantee that Christopher is not going to mention the possibility of 5″ of snow.  When we got to that part of my suggestions, all he could imagine was “no school on Monday,” which led to quiet fascination of a day devoted to all things Bowser and no “active.”

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