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Friday, October 2, 2009

Back up "But we do learn"

Looking back on how each her children have grown, Hanai recalled on how each of her little ones have struggled and reached those milestones. Her eldest was Elang, who talked rather early but walked late around 13 months, her only daughter Qaniit talked later but was easier to toilet train, but she it took her a while to learn how to chop wood. Elang had special knack for buffaloyaks and Qaniit loved to sow. Rahmet her youngest son was the only waterbender. He loved to swim but he was also the laziest of the group and incessiant tattler. He walked on and talked on time but never fully toilet trained until he was four. Tikaani however, seem to destroy all her notions on development.

He didn't start walking until he was almost two, around twenty months, and often toe-walks and has issues with balance. He spoke his first words (more rice) when he was around eight and wasn't toilet trained until he was twleve. Maka her husband worried that Tikaani would never speak or be toilet trained, but Hanai knew that all kids grew differently. Tikaani will reach those points in life, at glaciers pace yes, but he will reach them. Hanai just had to be diligent and look at the gifts that Tikaani did have. He could memorize sounds from all sorts of animals and had perfect rhythm. Focusing on never being able measure right or read or sowing right away was unimportant and futile. She had to focus on what he can do and what he was learning.

I think this is gonna be pattern on how I open essays...one or two paragraphs on Hanai. Anyway it brings up today's topic. We do learn but we learn slowly some so slow that it's hard for normatives to tell if we are learning at all. I still struggle with arthimathtics and numbers (don't have that stereotypical love for numbers) I like letters and word patterns but the mechanics of language eludes me. I wasn't potty trained until I was four, I talked early and walked at an average age, still at age three I couldn't tell right from left I had a hard time recognizing patterns and sequence. I was impulsive and distracted and never could fully process A+B=C. At age 3-4 I was diagnosis with ADHD/ADD my father was diagnosed with the same. It wasn't a correct diagnosis, but a precocious speaking female four year old wasn't going to be labeled with a developmental disability in 90-91.

It baffled my mother and father who always talked how "Smart I was" but always struggle with school. I was failing Biology when my father knew that was one of my better subjects (according to him) and how I should be passing with flying colors. However the fail to notice that I did better in Drama class and in Latin than I did in my more mathmatical classes. I did better in History (and to my teachers chagrin I often corrected her.) For my sophmore year we had a creative writing assignment in English. My teacher wanted us write three pages on a real life event or a fictional event. Low and behold to my fathers amusement and my teachers irritation. I wrote 27 pages on an epic story about winged people (called harpies but not to be confused with the mythical critters), fighting an ursupation of their throne and restoring peace to their world that was suffering a violent genocide. Back then I was pissed that I got a C on it. But my teacher didn't want to read through 27 pages. I was proud however that I wrote around 700 words or so and all hand written. However I think I had to cull it down to four pages and I STILL got a C on it. Mrs Gibbison apparently hated fantasy.

The whole point that I am rambling here is the fact that autistics learn different things at different paces. And we do learn them, the problem is some of those tasks are learned in patterns that we are not familiar with and we struggle to learn them. What I discovered, is that I sucked at algebra but I did like geometry and permutations. Problitlity became exciting for me. However I didn't excel in those two subjects but I was keen to learn them. Because we learn differently I find it frustrating for parents to teach skills in ways that I struggle to understand and have no interest in. I did learn how to wash dishes and fold clothes and do laundry but at my own pace. I did learn to tie my shoes. At my own pace. It's this endless rush to learn and complete something that becomes the source of frustration for me personally. And my parents did nothing to end it.

Focusing on what you want to learn is more important than learning the next thing on the list. If I have interest in washing my own clothes than focus on that instead of making me do it an then yell at me when I did it wrong. If I want to learn a new language than get me lessons instead of saying that is too expensive and throw it out the window. Continue to facilitate skills that we love to learn and do. One of the biggest things I miss is improving my talent with equestrian sports. If only I had the resources I would be back on the saddle in no-time. Just keep encouraging to do the things we have interest in and do them well, as for important life skills, we will learn them. It just takes time, a lot of time for us. But don't rush us, it does more harm than good.

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