Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Amazing Alex - 3rd Grade

 
Alex in the summer before 3rd Grade.  He is on a laptop that we let him use.  He loves free writing and has written many a story on it.  He learned how to type correctly using a computer typing program - in one week.
He excels at pursuing an interest ceaselessly until learned.  We, later that year, got him his own laptop.  The dinner table is his primary study location.  This way Momma Bear can watch over her cub. 

  Alex having fun at a friend's house.  He has a play date with selected children whose parents have agreed to having a structured play session with the ABA therapist and Alex's mother attending.  
I think this is the best way for children to play nowadays - structured and chaperoned.  In the 60s, I had played alone and had wandered around, playing with any child that was outside.  This is no longer an innocent age.  Predators and bad influences abound.  It is sad, but it is worse to allow your child's course in life to be derailed or cut short because of some evil persons actions upon your child.
A child needs a positive adult influence there, and on guard, at all times - organized sports is a good option - not knowing where your child is, just allowing him to have fun outside, somewhere, is not.  Predators look for the single cub away from the herd.

Be alert - scan your surroundings.

Let all predators beware of Momma Bear.

Have them positively fear Papa Bear.


Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Amazing Alex - 2nd Grade


Alex at his 2nd grade science open house.  It was put on by the teachers.  The goal was to demonstrate some basic principles of science.  Alex loves science.  His mother taught him some principles of Logic ( Inductive and Deductive Reasoning ) as well as some of the fallacies of logic.


Alex enjoying the day at a local pumpkin patch
Alex skipped the 1st grade.  The new children accepted him and were very kind.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Amazing Alex - Kindergarten




Alex's first day of Kindergarten

The first hour was open house for the parents.  There were parental information sheets on each desk.  Alex thought they were for the students.  With the class full of students and their parents, he sat down and read the whole sheet aloud.  I got a kick out of the parents' astounded looks. 

He later became famous around the school.  Some of the other grade's teachers would see him on the yard during recess and have him tell how old they were by giving him the year.  They also gave him triple digit double tiered multiplication problems, which he then solved in seconds in his head.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Amazing Alex - Preschool



The Amazing Alex

His story is a continual process but we were astounded quite early on.
Unposed photo - one of his therapists who accompanied him at Preschool saw him sitting in this pose and thought it was funny so he snapped this on his phone camera and sent it to us.  Alex was going through ABA at home and they were practicing emotions by faces in pictures.  I think he was self practicing.

When he was in Preschool, he was given a Disney 365 story book.  One for each day of a year.  Each one was a 1 page complete story (a book for much older children).  Title, a small picture, a page number, content, and a date.  He read one a day.  About 6 months had gone by and he was able to tell us all the other variables after having been given any one variable for any of the past stories, in seconds, by memory. 

He used to correct his preschool teachers when they misspoke.  He wasn't being mean or trying to embarrass them.  He thought they had just made a mistake and so he pointed it out.  
One incident went as such: 
A particular teacher whom was plagued by her early speech patterns said - I don't want nobody talking! 
Alex said:  "Ms. xxxxx, Grammatically speaking, That's a double negative!  If you want everybody to be quiet, you should say, I don't want anybody talking"!

He did that a few times.  The teacher got red faced when he laughed good heartedly, thinking that it was just a silly mistake. 
Some teachers used him to read to the other children.
He also used to have adults give the year that they were born and he would give the answer very quickly with a caveat - "You are (ex) 36 or 37 - depending on the month and day".

Actually, an incident at age 3 1/2 yrs., at Border's made me proud.  He loved the bookstore.  His mother would let him pick out books.  He went to the young adult section, pulled out a book for teenagers, sat down at one of the many chairs and started reading aloud.   There were some High School and College students there and my wife saw one leave and return with some friends.  Soon there were many young adults gathering around and listening to him read and commenting approvingly.  Again, with proper pronunciation and with no hesitation in his delivery. 
 


Monday, May 17, 2010

The classroom


The dedicated classroom has everything in it to facilitate learning and exploring.  Games, and especially, books, are in a multitude of book cases.  The ABA Therapists could operate in full comfort.  We had installed a color video and sound camera transmitter so we could see our son grow, but more importantly, we could learn all the techniques used.  It was our training too.  I am so grateful for their help.  My wife always kept the classroom fully stocked with new books and games.




They worked up to eight hours in one day.  Many hours, but not long hours.  They made it fun for him.  He looked forward to their praise when he did well.  Even now, even though the ABA therapy has ceased (outgrew the program - no more need - he did so well), he still has free reign of all the books.  My wife says he sometimes goes up to the classroom and picks out a book and free reads in there.  She can hear his laughter as he reads something funny.  For him, it is also a place of good memories.  He feels comfortable there.  There are, of course, many more books in his room.

Alex early in his ABA therapy.  We had installed a color video and audio camera.  It transmitted  wirelessly to one of our downstairs TVs (the system cost but $60.00 online). We could watch and learn the same techniques.  Continuity of the program was essential not only for the therapists, but for the parents also.  Firm and gentle guidance typified the program.  Alex loved the encouragement he received.  He loved hugs and the small rewards gotten for a job well done.  



 

























The therapists knew of, and, encouraged the use of such monitoring equipment.  They knew parents are both worried and curious.  This is also a prime learning opportunity for the parents.  Nothing teaches so well as a technique or system demonstrated.  Alex learned to love his time spent learning from his teachers.  He has fond feelings for them to this day.  We were so fortunate to have had such a great crew of dedicated people.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Alex: Math Kid

Alex's last three Algebra 1 tests.  He is 9 yrs. old and in 4th grade. He is taking Algebra 1 with the advanced 7th and 8th graders.  Starting this summer, his mother will cover Geometry and Algebra 2.



The frog sticker is funny.  The teacher realizes he still likes stickers on his papers.

Once, Alex got home and said that a particular 8th grade girl in his Algebra class always gives him a hug when she sees him.  He said, "------- is romantically interested in me!".  We laughed and explained that they were friendly maternal hugs.






































My sister had bought Alex a University Math lecture DVD.  Alex was answering some of the problems before the professor explained them.  Something about Fibionacci (sp?).





Saturday, May 15, 2010

Study Time



Study time for Alex.  The dinner table offers no distractions and Momma can be close by as she prepares meals.  He zips through his homework and then it is on to Momma's advanced studies.  He will typically study after school for an extra 3-4 hours, eat, and then have one hour free time.  He usually plays a Sim or Puzzle game on his Laptop.  He will then shower and prepare for bed.  Another established routine is bedtime.  He is always read to, and he reads to his Mom, followed by comprehension and reasoning practice.  This usually goes on for 1-2 hours.  He falls asleep listening to his mom's reading.  This has been the way ever since he was born.  He thrives on routine.  Good study habits are made from the beginning.  On the weekends he still studies for 3-5 hours - not including his free and bedtime reading.  During Summer he is on a perpetual weekend study schedule.  His mother is constantly researching and purchasing new study material for Alex.





He loves reading while he eats.  Here he is snacking and reading.  He loves to sit on the sofa and read for hours.

Halloween - Math Teacher !!!

A couple of years ago, Alex insisted that for Halloween, he was going to be a Math Teacher.  We couldn't think of how a typical one looked like, so we went with the stereotype. Alex went from door to door getting candy and puzzled looks.  He had fun, but it was his last Halloween as he doesn't really enjoy social occasions.  He doesn't want any big birthday parties.  Just family.  We really don't celebrate any holidays.  At age 7, Alex thought they were for children and were kind of silly.
 

Alex doesn't really eat sweets...well not often.  It is a special treat.  However, we can leave out chocolate and he never gets into it.   He was always given fruit and nuts for a snack.  He does seem to enjoy that candy bar though.  Alex is rule oriented.  He rarely does something that he should not do.  As an Aspie, he dislikes disorder and unannounced changes.  He had learned to become more flexible through his therapy and by his Mother's follow through training.  She is now working upon getting him to be more organized.  He is very forgetful.

Alex In Japan

Alex with his Maternal Grand Father and Grand Mother in Japan.  Alex and his Mother visited for 1 week when he was 6 yrs. old.  He thoroughly enjoyed the experience. 
















Alex was raised on Japanese food.  He loves it.  In Japan, there was a lot more variety of tastes.  He especially loved the fruit drinks with fruit in it.
















 

A funny story involved many of the neighbors.  They live in a small fishing village in the countryside.  Many had never seen a foreigner in real life.  When they saw Alex in the store (you can tell he is mixed - and of course, he had spoken in English), they followed him around.  Many neighbors knocked on their door at night to get to see and talk with him.  The Grand Parents decided to take him around to the neighbors.  Alex loved the attention.  He said he had felt special.














This is him at the Airport...ready for departure...back to the U.S.A.  As you can tell, his smile is forced.  He still has a difficult time forming a smile when it isn't sincere....then again...perhaps too many people find it too easy to do so.  It simply isn't natural to smile when it doesn't come from within.  He only did so because his Mother told him to smile for the camera.  He will sometimes argue that it is phony.  He is right.  I think it is the photographer's job to capture the real you and the right moment.  It is the person's job to be genuine and true to one's self.

  Alex did well on the plane.  He had taken a variety of games and books.  He was also fascinated by the on board (seat back) G.P.S. and routing screen.  He seemed to really enjoy his trip.  He certainly wishes to go back.
















Learning to look others in the eyes

This was a typical Alex pose when spoken to until he was 3.5 yrs. or so.  The ABA therapists targeted this trait specifically and he learned to face others and to look them in the eyes.  They identified and corrected undesirable behavior, and reinforced desirable ones, to great effect.

He rapidly went from eye contact aversion to direct eye contact to....a photogenic ham :)


The therapist working with him at the time would sit in front of Alex and would repeat, "Look at me".  When he would look away, the therapist would gently move his face to face her's and would engage his eyes with her's.  She would then praise him when he looked.  The therapy was firm but gentle...and always consistent. There would be 3-4 therapists a day rotating in.  This was by design as he had to get used to broken routines and new faces.  Although he had a core cadre of teachers, the routine would be jumbled sometimes so he had to get used to unexpected events.  The staff kept detailed journals to ensure continuity of the program.  They really did a great job.  We were so lucky to have had them.  They put their hearts into it.  Alex reaped the benefits...as did we.





Learning Coordination - Kinesthetic Training I

Alex is 5 yrs. old in this photo.  He had gross motor coordination problems.  He had a hard time making this basket for awhile.
He was 6 yrs. old when we signed him up for Soccer.  He would participate for 2 yrs. and then we switched to other things as he wasn't enjoying it much.  We were also looking for more of a total body coordination sport.


No, this was not the sport we had switched to.  He did love it though.  We found the Wii and other video platforms to have valuable programs that helped coordinate his eyes and hands.


We started him in a tumbling class.  He really enjoyed it, but, the instructor moved on after a few months.  So...

He really enjoys Karate.  It has really improved his overall body coordination.  


We started him on private summer swimming lessons.  He really enjoyed them.  Although he still has problems swimming, it got him to not fear putting his head underwater.



We had gotten him a trampoline.  He has always enjoyed jumping.  We are always there to supervise him.  He learned a few basic jumps in tumbling.  He doesn't try any flips.  Just up and down...up and down.

He started riding a bicycle at 8 yrs.  He could have learned sooner but we were afraid he would be too impulsive on the streets.  We are still with him when he rides.



Kinesthetic Training I

I am also starting him on the basic power lifts for overall body strength and application of body mechanics.
He is to be home schooled from now on.  I will be able to work with him on a regular basis.  His grip strength was one of his major weaknesses.  It won't be in the future.  The training of the nervous system is just as important as that of the muscles.  He shall get both through Powerlifting.

We shall keep him up on his Karate also.  I shall also include jogging for endurance.  An activity that the child loves doing is one that he shall keep doing.  With passion, he shall be able to overcome any obstacle.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Overcoming Stimuli through Positive Reinforcement.

Alex when he was 5 yrs. old.  We had taken him to the RainForest Cafe in San Francisco.  He was just getting used to multi-stimuli.  There were sights and sounds throughout the Cafe from flashing lights (simulated lighting and thunder) to animatronics (robotic animals moving and bellowing periodically).  He did well.  He used to be bothered by unannounced stimuli.  The ABA therapy targeted this, among other problems, and he overcame them quickly.  In this photo, he had ordered Dinosaur chicken nuggets.  He picked up a T-Rex shaped nugget, bit its head off, announced, "This dinosaur is extinct", and laughed.

In this picture he is 5 yrs. old.  He is playing his Leapster learning game platform.  He loved the Math and English learning programs.  He would play for hours on end while we drove.  He would move up to a laptop in later years.  The Leapster was a good tool for him.  He had a choice of many learning programs and he would always reach for it when he was not reading.





















His gross motor coordination needed work when he was young.  Part of his therapy included the playground.  They not only worked on his physical skills, but his social ones as well.  He, of course, loved this portion.  Introduce the stimuli in controlled, easily digestible portions, teach the coping mechanism and give positive feedback at the successful completion of the task.  Positive Reinforcement.

























 He is 5 yrs. old here.  He loved train and tram rides at amusement parks.  He would be so engrossed in one particular thing at a time that most other stimuli he would just close out.  Those things that he did notice though, he would remember well.


















 






Although he was still a bit uncoordinated, he loved to run on the grass at the park.  His coordination has greatly improved over the years.









He is 6 yrs. old here.  He had a good time at the park with his Mother.  He had spontaneously put his head on the table so the shot was irresistible to Mother.

















Alex loved what he called, "Rubby Rub".  He would rub noses with us.













He has always been raised with lots of affection.  He loves to be held.  One of us was always with him.  His Mother was always on the lookout, ensuring everything was baby safe.   He is a very happy child as he was raised with a lot of attention, affection and love.  He loves hugs and kisses.  Again, we raised him with Positive Reinforcement.  He looked forward to learning.
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