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!