Spectrummy Mummy

Asperger's, Allergies, and Adventures Abroad

Posts Tagged ‘Reading


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I’ve got so much going on this week that I don’t have time to post.  But I’m such an excellent procrastinator, I’ll do just that.  This week, for instance, I’ve got a video conference tomorrow, a cocktail reception on Thursday evening, organise our family to fly out to the states on the weekend, and I need to draft the presentation for a conference upon my return.  Oh, and the thousand other things that I need to do in my job.  But I only work part-time (32 hours a week), so it should be easy.

And then there is the day to day dealing with kids with special needs.  Trying to eke out time with each to put what they learn in therapy to good use.  I’m effectively dealing with three different schools, and two sets of speech and occupational therapists.  Yet somehow I only have two kids, and their needs are comparatively mild, it really should be easy.

I was talking to a colleague today who said I make it all look so ‘easy.’  I had to laugh.  Of all the things my life is…easy would be the worst adjective.

I’m dropping balls, but somehow my juggling act keeps going.  I forgot that one of Pudding’s schools has spirit week this week, and I forgot to dress her up like a movie star on Monday.  Lucky for me that Hello Kitty is a movie star (shut up, she is!) and Pudding always opts to dress like Hello Kitty.

She is helping out in other ways too.  Taking on more little duties as I shirk them.  She has been making leaps and bounds with her reading and writing since starting in an inclusive classroom.  On Thursday Spectrummy Daddy and I will be taking her in to school for a teacher conference in which Pudding will demonstrate her progress.  

One thing I’ve made certain of, even as we get busier and busier, is that Pudding always reads her reading book from school every evening, then I read a story of her choice.  After she has finished, I comment on the reading log sent from the teacher.

I guess Pudding thinks that she’ll save me a job here, because tonight I went to write, and I found she’d already done it.  Her verdict on this book?  Easy.



I don’t think any of this is easy, my love, but thank you for always reminding me that it is worth it!

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

February 26, 2013 at 7:24 pm

The Library Book

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Library book shelves

Image via Wikipedia

You know the Mommy Wars, right?  The Stay-at-Home Moms against The Working Mothers.  Then there was the Tiger Moms versus Western Moms.

If you have More Than One you look down on the Only Child parents (unless you have as many as The Duggarts, then you’re too busy counting your kids to bother with anybody else’s).

The Single Parents have twice the workload and half the support of the Smug Marrieds, of course.

As a Special Needs Mother I admit to occasional feelings of jealousy towards the Moms of Typically Developing Kids.

The Multiple Moms must want us to shut the hell up with our easy-peasy single gestations.  And let’s not forget a gender fight when it comes to parenting.  It goes on and on.

It is time for all parents to stop fighting and unite against a common enemy.

The Library Book.

Now, I don’t hate library books per se.  In fact, one of the things I miss most when I’m living overseas is a decent library.  Free books is right up there in my list of good things.  If it hadn’t been such a hassle to join the local library here, I probably wouldn’t have resorted to downloading the victorian mathematical fantasy Flatland, which bewildered me with gender inequality throughout the dimensions.  (What do you mean I’m just a line?)

Cubby’s preschool has a library, and each week he brings a new book home.  One time it was a book about a bear and colours.  No plot, nothing of interest for the little man, who decided that in the absence of a story it would be better for him to just chew on it to spare other children having their hopes dashed.

Sometimes there will be a story, but in Afrikaans, which we don’t speak.  He gets bored of my inability to translate, as do I.

This latest book was about dinosaurs, and I still have pronunciation problems.  No matter how I try to linger on the pages for Tyrannosaurus Rex and Triceratops, he always flips to the pages I struggle on:

Cubby: “Mummy, what does that spell?”

Mummy: Op-si-tho-co-eli-cau-dia.”

Cubby: “No, I don’t think that’s right.  Try again.”

But it doesn’t matter wether the book is beloved, or discarded, the same thing happens each week.  The morning the book is due back, it goes missing.  I don’t know where it goes to, but it is the same place any letter home from school hides.  And then we are united, because all over the world, already late for work, millions of parents are searching for lost books.  I won’t have time to get dried after taking a shower, I’ll be out of breath before 7 am.  But I know I’m not alone in this, and Natsuki’s Tiger Mom in Tokyo, working single mother Sarah from London, and Vladimir’s stay-at-home father in  Moscow are all going through the same thing.  The Duggarts twenty times over.  All thanks to the malevolence of library books.

When asked, Cubby reverts to his default tactic of blaming his sister for taking it, even though she has her own mini-library of about 10 books that she has memorized and no interest in adding any others to it, would that she did.

Even though we put our books in storage, we haul the kids’ books around the world with us.  We add to them whenever we move.  You could say we have our own library.  I could loan them to the entire school, and then could be the one to frown disapprovingly at the parents who’ve forgotten to return them, yet again.  I don’t need any more of your books, okay school?  You’re just bringing me more work, and that totally puts me off my reading!

Eventually, I’ll find it, in some place I’ve already looked.  And while I’ve been searching, the kids who were ready for school will now have spilt milk or squished blueberries into their clothes.  Often Cubby will need another diaper change, because I think he is waiting until he learns to read before he can go to the bathroom so he can be Just Like Daddy.  There’ll be no time to dry my hair, or fasten my buttons properly, and forget make-up. Then we’re so late that even if we avoid the Stares of Shame for forgetting the book, we get them for interrupting circle time, which Pudding is keen to point out is not actually circle-shaped.

I’ll shake my fist at the great librarian in the sky and vow that next time I won’t even let him see the book, and just hide it in the car until I return it.

But this time when I finally found the book locked in a sensual embrace with the missing PTA letter, I learned that they were raising money for more library books.  I think they are actually trying to push me over the edge, until I read on and discover that they are raising money for library books for a local orphanage.

And then my heart lurches as I think of all the times we’ve snuggled up together with books.  Whether it is the sweetness of Pudding’s voice filling in the last part of each sentence, or the earnest look of concentration on Cubby’s face as he learns and anticipates what comes next.

That is something all of us parents have in common; we’re so incredibly lucky.  To hold our little ones close, to read to them, to nag at them when they lose something, to see them live and grow.  And our babies have people who love and cherish them.  Who will take the time to read to them, and help them learn in turn.

We’re just so fortunate to be here, each and every one of us.  Even the wet-haired, bedraggled, perpetually late mothers of absent-minded book-biting boys who can’t yet read, but love the library anyway.  I suppose he got that from me.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

March 12, 2012 at 10:32 am

B is for bee

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Bee of Halictus genus, possible Halictus scabiosae

Image via Wikipedia

Here is a dilemma for you: when trying to teach new experiences, do you use the strengths to your advantage, or put in extra effort to mitigate the weaknesses?

I know you, smart reader, you’d say it would depend on what you were trying to teach.  See, I know you now.  Okay.  Pudding will be 4 in December.  At this age, she is not expected to be able to read.  The “average child” (does anybody know one?) is expected to know the alphabet, know that letters make sounds, and letters together make words. She can do all of that, albeit in her own way (I think one day Pudding will record a cover version of Sinatra’s “My Way“- that is how she lives).

Pudding has an advantage with some pre-reading skills, I believe due to her autism.  Some call these “splinter skills” but I hate that term as it doesn’t recognize them for the superpowers I know them to be.  Instead, I call them spectrummy skills.  She has an amazing memory, and she is a visual learner, finding it easy to see patterns.  As a result, without trying, she has learned a few words just by seeing them often.  Words like her name, “hot”, “up”, “stop”, you get the idea.  One method for learning how to read is by using “Dolch” words, also known as sight words.  The idea being that the child would memorize a set of the most frequently occurring words in the English language, enabling him or her to read by rote.

One of the sensory difficulties that Pudding has is dysfunction with auditory processing.  As far as we can tell, her brain doesn’t seem to filter out extraneous sounds, and all the background noise that I can filter out comes at her all at once.  Her defense against this assault is to tune out.  This is why I frequently fail to get her attention just by using my voice, and sometimes I have to touch her to make her listen.  When sounds do reach her ear, they seem to be garbled.  Her brain has to decode the strange sounds and turn them into words, which is why it takes her some time to respond, especially in a noisy environment.  That is why I implore you to give Pudding and others like her ample time to process your words.

Many children learn to read by associating sounds with letters, and groups of  letters, and putting them together.  C-a-t spells cat.  Here Pudding is at a distinct disadvantage.  So many of the sounds are so similar to her ear that a phonic approach is problematic.  This is how the majority of children learn to read in schools though.  A thorough understanding of phonics enables a child to read several words they’ve never encountered before, incrementally raising their vocabulary every time they read a new book.

So here is the thing.  Do I opt for the sight word approach which will come more naturally to her, or do I begin the phonics approach, because I know it will be more difficult, and require more practice?  Do I work with her strengths, or against her weaknesses?  I’m thinking of this, because the following is a conversation she and I had this morning:

Pudding: What letter does bed start with?

Me: You tell me, what letter does bed start with?

Pudding: “B” is for bed!

Me: That’s right.  Now, can you tell me what sound a “B” makes?

Pudding: buzz

Yeah, you got me there, kid.  You do it your way.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

September 23, 2010 at 5:00 am