Tag Archives: reading

Insight From Daniel’s Dream

The talk of the house has been about reading. A personal goal that Daniel chose himself for this year was to work on language arts. He chose that for his “About Me” project that he did for his virtual social group. He did not talk much about it other than say, “I want to get better with my language arts.” I know better than, to push him for answers or reasons why – many times he is not sure how to explain it to me. He just “wants” to do things or try things. Reading aloud is an incredible challenge for him.

He and Joshua both struggle in this area.

I have had frustrations with the school doing DIBELS assessments with them because I do not feel that they are accurate at all for my kids. Even with Ariel, she reads silently at amazing speed, just last night she read three of “The Diary of a Wimpy Kid” books in an hour and half. She does score high with her reading aloud (fluency) though. I have read several things recently that have stirred my initial gut feelings about Daniel and how much he can read, understand, and comprehend. I have known all along that, he understood much more than what he could communicate and the more verbal he is getting the more I am discovering. I am not sure if Daniel will ever be comfortable using the spoken language as his main source of communication.

Mine is not, mine is in written form.

The things that I write out on here would never come out of my mouth fluently. I would get stumped, lost, hands moving, sweat beading, anxiety flaring, desperately trying to grab hold of the words that are flying through my head so articulately, but getting to my mouth as dismantled jigsaw pieces and blurting nonsense most of the time. I watch Daniel try so hard to get the words out of his mouth – I see his struggle.  I continue to reassure him that it is ok to take his time, to stop and gather his thoughts, and let him know that he does not HAVE to hurry to get the words out.

I spoke to his special ed teacher today and she agrees with me about the DIBELS assessments.

She and Daniel’s other teacher are on board to help him and to make accommodations needed to make him feel comfortable and feel successful with his lessons. One thing she mentioned was getting him a word processor to help with his testing’s. I think this is wonderful, but Daniel is not quite tackling the keyboarding with ease. It depends on the day. Some days he can type much better than other days. Some days I have to type for him otherwise, it will take all day to get an assignment complete. This causes him much frustration and I will not force him. He has ideas, thoughts, answers, but his fingers cannot move as fast as they come.

I had my concerns about whether Daniel knew as much as it seemed.

I did not doubt his competence; I was concerned as to whether he understood his grade level material. (I have never doubted Daniel’s intelligence or ability to understand/comprehend you can read my reaction to when he was first evaluated through the school here.) I thought he did understand his grade level material, but I have no true way of gauging it. The tests that he took at the beginning of the year were stressful for him and me. They took a looooong time and he was so frazzled by the end of them.

I watched him read and answer questions quickly and wondered if he was only guessing.

I waited for the results to see what happened. Both his reading/language arts and math came back “above average.” Again, I thought so, but I was still a little hesitant so I had him take another assessment through an online tutoring site that I am using to help him with reading, he scored “above average” again with his vocabulary being at “low level 4th grade.” My gut feeling has been that Daniel is very intelligent I just have not found the “it” thing to help him. I used to think that there was an “it” thing, but there is not. There are multiple “it’s” that will change, morph, progress, fall away, enhance, and transition into all sorts of things that work together to help his learning.

This morning I received a HUGE chunk of helpful insight from Daniel himself.

Daniel loves dreams, he loves to dream, and when he does dream a good dream he is very excited about it. The kids and I all have some intense, lively, and colorful dreams. Ariel shared hers, which ended with the animals outside throwing me up in the air to the moon, and I discovered that a cow actually lived on the moon and the moon had arms. Yes, that sounds about right! 😀 Daniel chimed in and said, “Mom, I had a dream. I had a dream that I read pictures and I was reading like you mommy.” I asked him a few questions about his dream and discovered that Daniel does see words to pictures.

He described it in a similar way to how Temple Grandin explains that she sees in pictures.

However, I understood more of how Daniel sees words. He sees them like me! I had not thought about it before because I have learned to cope and navigate through my world to survive – I did not give this much thought. If I find myself too close to something, I tend to have “blind spots” in my ability to see certain things. When I see words they are attached to images, I now have a ton of different images in the database of my mind, but that has taken a lot of time. When I see the images, I also see the words spelled out. For instance, when I look at a tree I see the tree in its natural setting as a realistic tree, but the letters flow and kind of dance t-r-e-e around in my mind.

They are separated, but whole and connected to the image.

I see an image pop into my brain when I hear a word – I do not hear the word. I see the word coming together along with the image. David shared with me that when he hears a word he hears the sounds (phonics) that the word makes with the letters and an image comes later. I have no sounds to letters unless they are connected to some other sensory experience for me. The more I spoke with Daniel the clearer it was to me how he processes reading words AND how I do. Now I have some ideas on how to help him a little more with reading to make it less frustrating. I feel that this also confirms why using Pecs images did not work for Daniel. The images made no sense to him.

These types of images confused him very much. 

I used the idea of the Pecs images, but printed out our everyday items that he used in our house. I used realistic images of day and night, pictures of our toilet, our bathtub, his food that he actually ate and his clothes, etc… The cartoon illustrations confused him and did not work. He would become frustrated, upset or walk away from me. When I started using “real” items labeling them with words he started to communicate with hand motions, pulling me to the items that he wanted, or attempting to say the words. I now can use his dream insight to help me use a similar method with the stories or the words that he is learning.

It may help him read aloud better it may not, but I think that it can help him.

Interestingly, Daniel can look at a word on a page and struggle with it, but if I spell it aloud, he can connect the word and say it almost immediately. I still struggle with reading aloud, so I am not sure if Daniel will ever become fluent in reading out loud. I really do not care it is not a skill that is going to make his life better or contribute to his ultimate well-being. However, reading will and if I can help him find joy in reading in some way then, I think that will make his life a bit easier and it opens up another world for him that he has not discovered. Reading has been my world away from this world. It has been my comfort and solace when I could find no other.

I had challenges with reading, my words move, dance, have colors, and images.

While growing up I found it difficult, but one thing I did do was spend hours reading, I would read aloud to my stuff animals to try to help my anxiety for reading during class. I would read along with record books for hours and hours nonstop. These are the things that I did on my own to help myself. Daniel does not like these types of methods nor does he enjoy books in the same way that I did (do). I am going to brainstorm on this and do some research, but for now I am excited about several things here. Daniel is communicating his thoughts and SHARED in detail about his dream. He has expressed things that he want to work on.

Daniel has been sharing his thoughts and feelings in ways that he has not before and I find that exciting! 

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Share Worthy

I read this post “A Girl You Should Date” this morning, and thought it was quite grand. It made me giggle thinking of Ariel and then, I felt a bit sad because it is going to take one smart fella to keep her. If she even wants someone in her life that is. :-) She did say that she is going to have three kids so we’ll see how that plays out, plenty of time. Who knows by then maybe it will like Gattaca. The boys will have their challenge as well because I am not sure I (or they) can handle any girls in their life who is not a reader, it does not have to be what I read, but they will need an understanding of paracosm for sure. Maybe I could teach them love of reading … I am a mind wanderer today. (A lot going on here.)

I also, have to share that this post is timely.

I finished my book a couple of days ago, and I am in the editing process. (Update: 10/25/2013 Still editing this darn book! I really hope to finish it by next spring, but it looks unlikely with everything that is going on around here. I have not been able to work on it for many, many months.) I started to feel a bit insecure about the story and wondered if it was worth it to keep going. After reading (just reread it again) the post that I shared above, it gave me a kick to keep going. The story is my two worlds of reality and fiction. Ironically, the main character is a reader, the setting at times is in an old bookstore, and she has a love for words. Hmm … I just need to complete it so I can say that I did it.

I smiled at this section of the post:

“It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas and for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry, in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.

She has to give it a shot somehow.
Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.

Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who understand that all things will come to end. That you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.

Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilight series.”

– Rosemarie Urquico –  

The characters are always real, whether in the book or the movie remake. 😉

All the characters I read are a part of me; they are fully alive and breathe while I am reading them. I think that is yet another reason why I cut off my fiction reading for so long. I admit, I fall in love with them, and can find myself being sympathetic to the villains. Some villains use the best words! In regards to the part about lying above, I want to clarify that type of lying I get – when it is through word play with a person I relate to or have a deep connection. (I have very few in my lifetime, but I have had those connections.)  The joy of playful banter of flinging wonderful words, making love in the mysteries of discovering what is truly meant, and how they all manifest their multiple meanings. Words are indeed love for me. I only have my poems to have word plays with; they keep me cheery and balanced…mostly. :-)

I am babbling today, trying to stop a holiday rant. Ha ha ha (I am seriously overloaded, and now doing a garage sale this weekend. Yikes! – the garage sale was a success, this was 2011 I am NOT doing one now – next week we are moving. Another Yikes! added for emphasis 2013.)

On to completely different topics now, I read some other things recently that I thought were good too. I am really all over the place, but it helps me focus to read when my brain is like this. I will stop with these – sharing.

The Truth About Lies (The list given to discover if the person is lying is too much work; I do not know if it would be worth it for me. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.)

Regardless of what you believe, this next one about homosexuality is good to read and ponder.

This last one is an excellent reminder, especially for the holidays.

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Finished Reading The Book

I started reading “An Invisible Sign of My Own” on Friday and finished it on Tuesday. Ariel said she really liked the book and wanted me to read it out loud. She had picked it up and investigated it at some point. She liked how the page numbers were vertical and in circles and the swaying words of “an invisible sign of my own” was on each top right corner of the page. I did too.  We spent some of Sunday and our school hours reading this book. I had to edit however, and make it a PG rating for them. I did get some questions like “Why did you stop reading?” I would tell them that it wouldn’t make sense to them so I was skipping it. They seemed ok with that.

They enjoyed hearing about the 2nd grade classroom and what they did.

Mona Gray, the main character ended up being a Math teacher for kindergarten to 3rd grade, but we mostly heard about the 2nd grade class. She had the children make numbers out of their bodies and created math problems. We all thought that was great and Ariel jumped up as soon as she heard it and made herself into a 3. We all got up and started making numbers and math problems with our bodies. Then, we went into the alphabet and started spelling words for a while. Our largest number we created was 1111. We were all ones per Joshua’s request. And Daniel and Ariel laughed and said we are “One thousand one hundred eleven!”

There were numbers throughout the book.

It was awesome. We talked about the math problems in it. They also asked me questions about why people were saying certain things or acting a certain way, so it turned out to be a great social learning tool as well. They didn’t get a lot of things, but they did pick up on more than I had anticipated. As I read they made Lego creations, Dragon tales with Ariel’s dragons, colored, drew, looked for numbers in their toys, and also shared with me their perspective about the story. Like why was Mona was acting like that or explaining to me that the 2nd grader who was misbehaving should not act like that. They told me how some of the kids seemed mean.

During our breaks we came up with our own stories.

Since I shared about Mars the other day, I asked them which planet was their favorite and we read about their favorite planets. Ariel’s is Neptune, Joshua’s is Jupiter, and Daniel’s is Earth, but is subject to change at any moment. Then, we created our own planets and wrote stories about them. I am going to share them in another post. After we wrote our stories we drew our planets. The next day we wrote poems during our reading breaks. I will share them too on another post. We also took pictures. Later we pretended with Lego’s and Dragons that we were on our special planets. We had a great time and I think I am going to do this again with another book.

On a personal note, I have realized another thing about myself.

I know why I have such a problem with reading fiction. I need to relate to the characters, but when I do,  I get too involved. It is too hard for me when I get to the end. I get sad that it is over. It does depend on the book, but when I invest in reading I am fully engrossed. With this particular book I started off excited and immediately fell in love with the characters. As the book went on it became too close to home. At times I felt like I was reading my own words and it exposed things that I wasn’t ready to expose. I thought. I do not think that it was an accident that I read this book at this particular time in my life.

It helped bring to life things in me that I have so deeply hidden.

I have already been on this journey, but the book helped solidify particular me parts that I was unsure of.  It also helped me see how many things that I have quit. I quit so I wouldn’t feel, I quit so I wouldn’t fail, I quit so I would not have to deal with uncertainty.  This was a hard book to read, but it was also extremely enjoyable.  I saw parallels in my life and it was good to see it alive on paper. I also saw the characters as characters and felt their lives. I lived it with them in the movie that played in my head as I read it.

I get sad when I am finished with a book because I miss the characters.

Many books when I get to the end, I cry a little. I never understood why my eyes would start to fill the closer and closer I would get to the end of the book. I think I get some of it now. When I read a book it is like I am the camera man who is trying to capture all that the director wants. I get frame by frame, with the perfect setting, timing, color, lighting, stills just everything. I am capturing the very small detail with the shadows or special effects and the people. It is seeking that perfect moment where the actors capture just the right facial expression and emotional manifestations that are so important and mean so much to the story. The movie plays out and I have hoped to bring forth the complete desire of the director and what they wanted all of us to experience.

When I get to the end, I realize that many people have missed it.

All of the tiny details, the most crucial of moments are missed. The speck of dust that had a world of treasured truth was not seen. And I am sad. I miss my friends that were playing in this movie that I became intimate with. I shared in their deepest darkest times and their awesome joys and wonders and now it is over. I feel lost a bit when I finish and if I am deeply attached it can take a few days to recover my loss. This is the case with this book. I love them all. I love the town. I love the little things. This book is definitely one of my top 5. I am finished writing, but I have to share this lovely quote.

“Math and music tend to get along, supposedly music is just math in its best dress”




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