When people ask me how old mr. L was when I knew he had autism, I get to tell them that the head banging began soon after he turned 2. The head banging was what snowballed the beginning of his diagnosis journey. But I knew he was different before that. Before he could sit up he would cover his ears if the tv was too loud. As a toddler he never seemed to look at what we wanted to point out to him, trees, planes, cars, etc. And he preferred to sit in a corner surrounded by his picture books for the longest time undisturbed. He wanted to turn the pages and hold his books but hated it if I tried to read to him. How many toddlers scream and cry if you want to read a board book to them?
After his diagnosis I continued to try to read to him and to his little brother mr. C. Reading is important to my husband and I, my husband and I have college degrees, I hope to be a teacher someday, and I’ve written and published, “Hugo and Autism” on Amazon.
Mr.C didn’t mind being read to, but still mr. L would rip books from my hands, storm off to his room, and enjoy looking at his books by himself.
I mean, great, at least he would look at them, but that wasn’t going to build his vocabulary, or help turn reading into a gateway to learning or life success. So I tried different things, different books, different reading times like during bath time or dinner. Nothing worked.
He liked going to the library and still does, so I had decided to play hardball with that kid. I decided to start driving to his ABA therapy 15 min early and I would read library books to him in the car before it was time for his appointments. Why did I do this? Because he was stuck! He was strapped into his 5 point harnessed car seat and couldn’t run away. Was it easy? No, and poor mr. C was the trapped victim just trying to listen to the stories. Was it loud? You bet it was! Mr. L screamed and screamed for months while I calmly read to my boys with a cheerful tone of voice. Until one day he grew tired of yelling and started to listen, then he started requesting to have the stories finished before he would get out of the van. Then mr. L started requesting stories. And now he likes to help pick books for us to read before he goes to bed every night.
It took years of guess work trying creative strategies, patience and never giving up. But we have got here and now both mr. L and mr. C read one book each every night. We read for 30 min every night with scriptures, the kids read their book, and then we read something fun for the rest of the time, and sometimes that’s a board book for little miss A, a picture book or a chapter or two of a longer one.
I know we are still at just the beginning of our kid’s educational journey, but I’m happy at the progress we have already made this far.
Have you done anything outside the box to learn something or teach someone else? Tell us about it in the comments below 😁
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I taught my daughter to read by reading to her a lot!! I know that not unusual, but she picked up on reading super early.
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That’s so awesome! I love readings success stories 😊
My son would play out in the sand box over and over. He would also spin wheels over and over. He was a big page turner too. It wasn’t until we were trained to do ABA programs with him that we started seeing progress. He was non verbal until about 3-4 years old and then that was only single words here and there.
With ABA we were taught to sit at a table and teach (not sure if they still encourage this, my son is 19 now). I didn’t follow this rule with ABA. I took his ABA lessons and we did them in the sand box, the swimming pool, at the park, in restaurants, and also at tables.
One week when we were having an update meeting with the program director who taught us ABA she asked if our son had mastered something on one of the programs we were working on and I turned to ask our son while he played with legos in the corner of the room. Without looking up, continuing to play he answered my question. The director looked at me and smiled, she was amazed that he not only mastered the goal but that he was able to communicate outside a table setting without reinforcements.
That is when I told her I did not just do his lessons at a table. I took ABA with me everywhere in our world. It was the world we lived in that our son eventually would have to get used to. At least this was my view on things.
My son still feels uncomfortable with eye contact for too long but he speaks now. He reads and writes, has long conversations. He is smarter then me when it comes to academics. He has a scholarship to GCU here in Phoenix and is attending science classes at a Jr. College in the area until he starts at the University in August. He wants to study biochemistry.
Most people who remember our son from his early days of melt downs and being nonverbal are so shocked when they have conversations with him now. I always encourage ABA, and I always encourage mothers of ASD children to listen to their guts when it comes to their babies. They know what works, they will be by their sides always encouraging them in all their years. You are doing a fantastic job. I love hearing stories like this. Even small things like being able to read a story to a child is a big deal when your child struggles with that….good for you and congratulations. It is not easy.
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Thank you so much for sharing your story, it gives me hope. We also practice his ABA everywhere, it sounds like you were ahead of your time for moving it away from a table! Good for you for being creative and such a hands on parent! I love it.
Read it. Very useful and touching……
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