I thought it might be nice if I posted a yearly update here on this blog, for anyone who is not bothering to read about us over at my active blog, Along The Crooked Path
. That way I actually physically look at this blog once a year, and anyone who is just interested in the Autism Remediation stuff can get a yearly glimpse into what Autism post-remediation looks like, at least for one family.
Jacob will turn 10 in October of this year, and it's been almost a year since his Autism diagnosis was officially dropped. Of course, that doesn't mean there aren't still things that we work on, or that he doesn't still have challenges, so it's nice to have a place to think about that stuff and put it down in writing. And it's nice to get to showcase his strengths and achievements!
The biggest change in Jacob's life over the past year has been his involvement with dance. I allowed him to watch So You Think You Can Dance last fall (during their season 6) as I found the show very enjoyable and thought he might like it, too, since he'd expressed an interest in dance at a very young age (about 4), before I felt he was old enough to decide he wanted to do it. Well, he absolutely fell in love and insisted that I sign him up for dance classes right away. Right after the winter holidays, he participated in a try-it dance class at a local children's museum, and afterwards the teachers begged me to get him started in classes.
So I brought him to a local dance school and turned him over to the folks there. They got him started in Ballet and Jazz/Hip-Hop and Musical Theater. And I watched as the child who usually cooperatively got in the back of the line to wait his turn in every other situation turned into a take-charge, self-assured child who always volunteered to go first and readily asked questions about dance theory and methods. Despite only having danced for 3 months, he was given a solo part in the spring recital and performed the role of The Big Bad Wolf in the Sleeping Beauty ballet, opposite a girl who had been dancing for 6 years.
This summer he participated in 2 weeks of all-day dance camp, easily keeping up with students several years older and vastly more experienced, and took a short 5-week class in Modern, from which he was promoted to the next level for the fall, and received an invitation to audition with a Modern dance company. This fall he'll start dancing ballet at a school specializing in that, as well as continuing Jazz and starting Tap with his former instructor.
For a child that continues to have problems expressing himself verbally, he certainly has no problem expressing himself through dance, and he's already started dabbling a bit in choreography. And he gave me my very first dance lesson, and I couldn't believe how good a lesson he pulled together for me. His dance teachers are very excited about him, and I'm so happy we chose homeschooling for him so that we can easily arrange his schooling schedule around his dance schedule.
He also auditioned for his first Musical this summer and landed the leading role of Oliver Twist in the musical Oliver! He loved every minute of the rehearsals and performance, but afterwards decided to put acting on hold for awhile so he can concentrate on dance this year.
The homeschooling is going very well. We'll be starting 3rd grade with him this year, which means he's only a year behind where he would have been if we'd kept him moving at the pace for his age. And that extra time has allowed him to become very solid in his areas of difficulties, including comprehension, language arts skills and creative writing. This past year he began writing in cursive and working on story summaries. His drawing skills are really wonderful. He's very advanced with science, his understanding and abilities somewhere in the high school range, so I'm not doing a thing to purposely work on that, I just allow him a lot of access to science museums and written materials to keep him happy. He also has an aptitude for math, but I'm keeping him more on pace with his grade level so that I can make sure he's getting a solid base that is related to real-life situations with that.
Socially, he gets together with other homeschoolers almost daily, taking classes, participating in co-ops, or going on field trips. He gets along great with everyone, although he's yet to develop a close personal friendship with anyone other than his brother. Other than dancing and science, his interests include singing, building with various sets and materials designed for that sort of thing, spending time in nature, and reading anything he can get his hands on (although I limit his fiction reading to those books designed for kids of his emotional developmental level).
In this photos he's doing one of his chores, using one of our Collies to move the sheep to another pasture. In addition to doing farm chores for us, he also works for a neighbor taking care of his chicken flock.
We started back with OT (Occupational Therapy) this summer after taking a couple of years off to work on our own at home. He has lingering issues with trying to put his thoughts into words, and struggles with constructing verbal sentences. We all agreed that it isn't a speech issue, but more of an Autistic brain issue, and we're hoping that working on some Sensory Integration stuff, along with the Therapeutic Listening program, will help cause a bit of reorganization of those brain patterns that are holding him back. Besides his food issues, this is really the only recognizably lingering remnant of his Autism. Otherwise he's living a very full, social life.
In starting back with OT, I was surprised with how many challenges the therapists are finding with him. Little things, that I'm either just not recognizing at home, or that I've just gotten so used to as "him" that I haven't given it any real thought. I'm happy to have outside folks looking at what he's doing and giving me feedback. It's the only drawback I've found with homeschooling -- since I'm not comparing him in an ongoing basis with his peers, I don't necessarily pick up on things he's doing (or, more to the point, not doing) that are not typical. I'd be getting that sort of feedback from teachers if he was in the school system. But all things considered, he's much better off at home, and it's easy enough for me to pay for someone to give me that type of feedback.
Food is still an issue. He still eats about 4 basic meals and a handful of snack type items and that's it. He'll try pretty much anything I put in front of him, but it has yet to translate into new foods in his repertoire. The OT is going to start some work with him on that at some point, but I'm not holding out much hope. Fact of the matter is, he eats a pretty well-balanced diet and gets everything he needs to stay happy and active. And that's the most important thing. At some point (or so I assume) he'll take more of an interest in what he's eating and will make changes if he feels it is appropriate. In the meantime, it's just not worth spending my time worrying about too excessively.
And I think that pretty much catches us up with what's been happening around here the past year! Thanks to everyone who reads here and continues to give me feedback -- it blows me away that people are still finding this blog pertinent despite the fact that I've not really posted anything of any substance here in 3 years!