Portraits of Autism #6

This week is still pretty much the middle of the summer holiday for Turkish kids - they start again late September, after the break that comes at the end of Ramadan. We didn't go to the centre this month until yesterday, and then, we spent the time observing our own son via a web cam. So this is what I'll write about.

I can't believe she gets him to concentrate like this.
He is sitting at a small desk, writing down assiduously the words that N. dictates. N. is the same slight, confident woman I described calming down a teenage boy on the verge of an autistic meltdown. She's extraordinarily firm, but Max knows that. He knows it's no good messing with her, so he just does as she says.

He looks like he's enjoying this. He actually likes reading and writing. Look - he doesn't even look slightly bored.

 I look at his little face on the computer screen, his relaxed, yet focussed demeanor, and I agree. He is enjoying his class. This bodes well, as the French school starts again in ten days or so. His new teacher is sitting with me now. She got in touch before the holiday to ask if we could meet up, and if I could introduce her to Max's special needs teachers so they can co-ordinate their efforts.

And she can't believe how well he's doing. Today he's got two back to back sessions, an hour and a half with just a two minutes break to fetch a glass of water (for her) and a glass of weak Turkish tea (for him). They started with a conversation session - what polite people do when they haven't seen each other for close to a month.
'Max, where have you been? How was your holiday?'
And then, 'Max! Max! Look at me! Ask me where I've been. Ask me how I got there.'
'N. Where did I go?' 'No: ask me where I went'.
'N. Where did you go?' 'I went to Bodrum. Now, ask me who I went with.'
Then it's the reading and writing. Max is doing so well at this. I point out to the school teacher that Max is having to learn two slightly different handwriting scripts - Turkish and French. She's unphased. After all, she was brought up bilingual herself. But she'll talk to N. about it - no need to overload Max with more curly 'ls' than strictly needed.

Maths is next. Max's prefered method of adding is to draw little circles under the second number. Then he counts them. 5, 6, 7, 8. Five plus three makes eight. Now N. wants him to do it with his fingers. Put 4 in your head and 3 on your fingers. He has to hold out three fingers. Now he's counting, folding the fingers one after the other.
5, 6, 7.
Well done. Now put 7 in your head and 4 on your fingers. 4 fingers I said.
The woman sitting next to me is looking ever so carefully, taking notes. and asking for details of what they've done in the past. She thinks this way of adding might make like easier not just for Max but for all the kids. She tells me again she didn't expect Max to be sitting down, learning, all the time. She thought he'd be getting up, wandering around the room. She realises that what it takes is somebody who can catch his attention the second it starts to wanders, and who can spend time figuring out a way to explain a task to him that he understands. She's hopeful that the class room assistant we've got lined up for September (fingers crossed!) will be able to do just that. 

Next week I'll be in Italy, but please watch out for another great guest post, from Kim over at The Imcombobulations of an Incredible Imogenation. 

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Imcombobulated said...

How wonderful! Max is such a smart young man. I'm so proud of him!

Michelle said...

Max certaily does sound a clever little lad. Enjoy your time in Italy. Mich x

Sandrine said...

Thank you! Yes he is clever and works hard when he wants to. He just doesn't want to that often... For the last few weeks I'm managed to get him to do some school work every morning, but today he flat out refused. Hopefully he'll be more amenable once school starts again.

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