Sunday, September 11, 2011

Finishing up the Prevnar Clearing – more good surprises

Dante is ready to pick the 'different' object, notice his gaze
This week was exciting because Dante continued to be connected in the ways we enjoyed last week.  That is not usual at all, he has always been very inconsistent.  I’ve always felt that he knew much more than he demonstrated, but I could not prove it to his teachers because he was never consistent at school.  This week that changed!

I’m pretty sure there are many words Dante is able to read, or at least identify visually.  I decided to test him on this.  I showed him 3 words, each printed on a different piece of paper:  apple, pear, and banana.  I asked him, “where does it say apple?”, and he picked it correct.  I asked him, “Where does it say banana?”, and he also picked it correct.  I know he’s not familiar with “pear”, so I read it to him and spelled it as well.  Next I wanted to try something a little harder, so I presented the words sun, moon, and rain.  I know he knows sun and moon, so I asked him, “Where does it say rain?”  and Dante picked correctly!  What I also loved so much was that he celebrated quite a bit getting the answer right.  From there on I asked him to identify his dad’s name, my name, etc., all from three choices, and he got those all right.  That was very encouraging.

I have been teaching Dante letters and numbers with flashcards ever since he was very little, probably around two-years-old.  It was cute because often times he would make his choice by tapping a card with his forehead; that is how much he’s avoided the use of his hands.  But he would choose correctly very often, so I knew he was learning.  Plus the sheer amount of times he has watched Sesame Street videos must leave some residue of knowledge in his head!

Last year I learned about the Rapid Prompting Method (RPM), a way to quickly ask a child questions and prompt him to stay focused on the exchange and answer.  This method is incredibly useful for testing and teaching non-verbal children.  It is especially designed to hold the attention of children who are not only non-verbal, but also children who are constantly stimming and have attention deficit.  There is a tiny peek at the method in this trailer for the HBO Documentary:  A Mother’s Courage:  Talking Back to Autism.  The Indian woman who is having the boy pick answers from papers is the inventor of RPM. For more details, I highly recommend a visit to their website and a look at the videos that are available there of how the method is used with different children.  The results are amazing!

I met with Dante’s teacher on Thursday and explained what I was doing with him.  She was very excited that I was using RPM to ask him stuff, because she also uses the method.  On Friday I got the following note from her:
Awesome Morning!
-      Walked to the restroom door (while we where in the playroom), sat on toilet and pooped!  (told me “No” when I asked if he was finished too soon)
-      Worked on color words using RPM:  5 of 5 correct:  red, yellow, orange, brown and purple!
-      Said “JaQuan” (the name of another student)

This note blew me away.  I had never gotten so much wonderful news from school.  My first thought was, “Yeah, he can’t say ‘mama’ but he can say ‘JaQuan'?!  What the heck?” 

Oh, but Dante does say “Mama”!  Only to the wrong person!  After the last Prevnar 10M dose, our babysitter reported that Dante was an absolute angel, giving her kisses, caressing her hair and saying “Mama”.  I had to laugh.  I slaved over him all weekend and not once did he say it to me!

I knew the work they had done on Friday at school and I decided to take it further during the weekend.  I showed Dante the words Book, Apple and Sun and asked him, “Dante, which word begins with the letter A?”, he chose Apple.  I next asked him which word begins with B, and he picked Book.  This was a surprise because I did not know Dante understood what “begins with” means.

Today I wanted to determine if Dante truly understands what “different” means.  I placed three objects at a time in front of him on a sheet of paper with lines to separate them.  This is similar to the paper exercise he had done at school, except at school he had three drawn objects as opposed to real objects.  I then asked him which one of the objects was different.  Dante picked up the correct object each time, except for once.  The combination of two pine trees and a stop sign didn’t motivate him to think – he wouldn’t answer that question.  Still, I was thrilled with the results…he gets it!
Dante had to pick which object was "different", for one set at a time
All in all, I am thrilled with the work Dante has been willing to do, how happy he has been while doing it, and his performance.  It is awesome that his (new) teacher was able to witness it.  This is definitely an improvement and I pray that it continues.  I feel we have been doing something right and I ask God to guide us in the best next steps.  Please keep us in your prayers, as we keep all our special friends in ours!


Lucy alonso said...

Aleluya!!! Gracias a dios que nuestro Dante esta mejorando :) yo estoy súper Féliz porqué mañana empiesa Speech sessions para mi enano! Siempre rezo por nuestros enanos y veo que dios nos esta escuchado! Veras como estos ninos nos seguirán sorprendiendo :)

Janice said...

Wow -- that all sounds so wonderful and so promising. Yay, Dante! And yay for you and your whole family.

Anonymous said...

Wow, great update, glad to hear he is doing so well. There is so much knowledge locked in our littles one's heads that they just can't get out. Hope the great progress continues. Any improvement with the seizures yet? Take care!

Mom Connected said...

Thank you so much for your sweet comments and wishes! There seems to be an improvement with the seizures but i'm giving it more time to tell, will report on that soon!

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