Monday, October 21, 2013

Arthur in school and remodel work

After nearly two months of paperwork, meetings, testing, emails, evaluations, observation and detailed IEP, Arthur started high school last Thursday. He attends from 8:30 to 10:30 each day. Today, his third day, his teacher walked him out to meet me at the gate and got him to tell me about the origami paper boat he had made. Later, he told his dad about it! The word "origami" wasn't quite understandable till I explained it, but already we've seen an increase in the words he is initiating and using, with an effort to say many of them more clearly.

This past weekend in the lovely weather he helped me carry the sawhorses and a piece of plywood out from the garage to the backyard to set up a work station for sanding the trim boards for his room. We often remembered to get him to say the words of what we are doing or the tools we are using. He got to man the electric sander that is shaped like a baby clothes iron to sand the wide trim boards. Then Dad would sand the edges and tack cloth off the dust before I rubbed the stain on them on top of the covered ping pong table on the porch. Arthur's had a big part in remodeling his room, from pulling staples out of the floor to rolling paint on big areas of his walls and closet, to laying out the wood floor puzzle pieces to sanding the trim! His new blinds are installed so when his trim goes in, his room will be the first all the way finished room of the remodel!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Arthur's Education

Last Monday, the day came for Arthur and me to observe and experience the classroom #418 from 8:30-10:30 am for Special Needs high school students at Kamiakin. Upon entering the classroom, the first person we saw was Eser, Arthur's best friend from Vista Elementary School, 6 years ago! They both remembered each other and shook hands.

After the class preliminaries where 2 teachers and 5 adult aides help 19 students read and mark their calendars with the day's news, Arthur and Eser and three other students walked across the sidewalk with two aides to room #348 for academics with me along, observing. They read a story about Cloudy 2, the new sequel movie to Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs just coming out. Arthur sat near Eser, taking his queues from him on how to follow the handout. (On Thursday at the SmartMAp trade show, Dennis won a $30 gift certificate to the theatre, so on Friday we all enjoyed watching Cloudy 2 together the day it came out!)

When the group returned to Rm #418, they were divided into teams for life skills. Eser and Arthur were assigned to sweep the kitchen floor and unload the dishwasher, while the two young women stacked and tied up bundles of newspaper. (The other young man went to choir). In the half glass kitchen room, Eser showed Arthur how to hold the broom properly. Soon Arthur and Eser were outdoing each other in dramatic sashaying across each row as they took turns sweeping the grid marked on the floor. As they (and the aide!) were laughing, Eser snorted, which sent Arthur into spasms of laughter so that he rolled on the floor. After they got it all into the dustpan, they moved onto the dishwasher. Eser handed Arthur each dish, and with a flourish and a wiggle, Arthur put each one in the cabinet across the room. Their good humor helped them get all the work done in quick time!

When the teams switched, Eser threw a huge stack of papers together hastily, so had to start over to make a small, neater stack, just up to the line taped on the wall. Arthur and the aide watched him, then the aide had Arthur tie the first bundle before he stacked up the next one for Eser to tie. Arthur was very deliberate and precise, wiggling at first with each added paper, then just steady work. Soon it was time for lunch (at 10:30!) so time for us to go.

Dennis has given Arthur three music lessons in the past couple weeks. He's getting him to count to four over and over in an even rhythm, and hold down and pluck one bass string in that same, even rhythm. Keeping it even is the hardest thing for Arthur at this point. It's as if he thinks, once I know how to do this, why can't I do it faster and faster! But Dennis is very patience. When I tried to teach Arthur a few years ago, I was not able to get him to repeat 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4 over again, he kept trying to go to 5-6-7, so we have real progress. He is also now using the same song sheets we use at church, cognizant of the titles and words, whereas before he wanted to use his own songbook without regard that the words were not what we were singing.

Yesterday, Arthur and I were sitting at the computer ready to Skype with Bethany and her children. I was going to read everyone a story called Love You Forever. (If I have ever read this book to Arthur, it was only once and quite a while ago.) While we waiting for them to call, I asked Arthur if he would like to read the book out loud to me.  He did just that! Before they called, he read the first two pages, following each line, nearly every noun understandable, the other words made with sounds not understandable, ending with the word, "crazy", which was the last word on the page! I was amazed!