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 😁