zaterdag 30 juni 2012

About the boy, the continuing story

Pretending to be a bus.

 I should have written this post much earlier. It’s the foreign language that’s holding me back, but I don’t want to postpone any more. So for those of you who know I’m running a Dutch Son-Rise program for Pelle, here’s an update. How’s our boy doing? Fantastic!
It's almost 2 years since I started playing in his sleeping room and boy, has he been blossoming ever since. We now have a team of 2 players and I hope to contract another one (a 20-years old boy) very soon. Pelle’s still in school, as the summerholidays run very late this year, but I already know he’s moving to the 4th grade, along with his classmates. (Here in the Netherlands you start with 1st grade when you are 4, and he will become 7 in July). He still has aid in school by a remedial teacher but also by a lovely little girl who sits next to him and helps him to get organized etc. He learned to read this year and to write, although his handwriting is still very wonky. But what’s more important for me is that he’s able to function in a class, with some adjustments, and hearing his teacher say she is so very proud of his achievements.
What’s also wonderful is that he is finally drawing. We set this as a goal, almost a year ago. And look what he did 2 weeks ago!

A drawing with little fish, a churchtower, a house, a mill, a car,
the sun & Pelle and 'vormen' (= shapes) in the corner.

In comparison, here's a drawing he made in Oktober. The assignment (at school) was: make a phantasy animal.

At this moment, our other goals are: learning to play together, learning role-play and learning to play alone. We now play things like memory and simple board games. And today for instance he said to me: ‘Now I’m a spitting fire like a dragon, mum” “It’s pretend” he reassured me and there he went, hissing away.

(For those of you who are more familiar with the details of Son-Rise, we also work on eye contact & non-verbal communication, verbal communication, interactive attention span and flexibility, but more implicit. I estimate him at being at stage 4 at most of the topics, with some exceptions you’ll read about below). 

The children in his class like him, as he is very sweet and cheery, but he hardly plays with other children and has no friends, yet. (He was invited for 2 birthday parties this year, though). So this month, we’ve been starting to introduce play-dates. I invite children to our home and play with both of them. After a while, I hold back and let them play together. What I see, is a boy who interacts very good when it comes to verbal communication, but who has to learn how to play. At this point, he’s simply lacking experience and skills like more advanced role play. He still has little imagination. But the children enjoy each others company and there are enough things Pelle can do like making a puzzle together or a little competition on the bike (Who will arrive first at the finish?) And as he has learned SO much these last years, I’m confident he will grow in this aspect, too. He sure likes children. He loves it when Mark and I read stories about toddlers and he likes watching programs for toddlers on TV. So mentally he’s still a bit young, for liking this when almost 7, but he laughs, while watching, and what a great marker that is for empathy.

So is he still autistic? By now, that word has lost most of its meaning to me. Sure my boy is not average, if there ever is such a child. He flaps with his hands, talks a lot, makes strange noises, talks a lot, wants to go to the church over and over again to see the doors and interior, wants to go to the mill over and over again, wants to go by the bus and the train every day if only this was possible,
talks A LOT ; - ) and wants our attention every minute of the day. (Hence our goal of playing alone, which is very hard for him but his efforts are also heartwarming). He’s unique and I love him SO MUCH. And I’m SO VERY VERY HAPPY he came into our live, I can hardly express it. So we go on, the both of us. Blossoming away.

3 opmerkingen:

  1. What a wonderful and uplifting post!

  2. Ria, thanks for the update. Pelle has made remarkable progress, no doubt, due to your diligent work.... and his of course! Can you "cure" autism? I don't think so. However, you can learn skills that help you navigate the world more easily. I often think of it as learning a new language. Some never can. Some only learn to ask for the basic necessities. Some become more fluent. But it takes hard work and lots of practice.

    1. Hi mermaids, thanks for the comment and the analogy. It's not my aim to cure him, that's not important for me. My aim is to provide him with as much nourishment as I can, so he can develop and still be the lovely child he is. I focus on his possibilities. I think many autistic children are underestimated in their potential.