Musings of a Move

So we made it!  We have begun the next chapter of our lives as the Texas Currys!  It has been quite an interesting few days around here, so I thought that I would write about some different stories about our move (with Ryan’s insights of course!)

The Father/Son Reunion

We picked Randy up very late last Tuesday night.  Ryan and Grace went with me to the airport and by the time we got home, it was midnight.  Ryan was in his room and I asked him, “What do you think about your dad being home?!!”  SO NOT VERY HAPPY.  I was completely shocked.  “Why?”  BECAUSE I HAVE TO GO TO BED. Phew.  I was worried about that answer!!!

Fish Food for Thought

We were running around, trying to get things ready for the movers when I noticed that Ryan was spending a lot of time just hovering near our two betta fish.  I brought the letter board to him and I asked him what he was thinking about.  CARING ABOUT MY FISH AND ANCHORING DEARLY MY THOUGHTS ABOUT BEING A PET OWNER.  I said to Ryan, “Your use of language is so beautiful and your vocabulary is so amazing.  How did you learn to use those words?”  YOU ARE HELPING ME BY READING TO ME.  “It almost sounds like poetry, I wonder if you would like to do some lessons on poetry, like Haiku poems and famous poems?”  KNOW THAT I LOVE POETRY.  Well, add that to the list of lessons that I need to create!

***As a side note, our two fish, Margaret and Baena, did not survive the move.  We tried so hard as we bought special bags and a cooler and read up on how to transport fish for a move.  It seems as though the moving truck was just too hot.  We have not told the kids yet.  I would love to hear from our readers on how you have told your children news about the death of a pet.  If you are so inclined to share, please let us know in the comments.***

Tools and Repairs

Randy wanted to measure Ryan’s old room.  He took out a tape measure, and since Ryan has been interested in tools/repairs, thought that he would ask Ryan for help.  He wanted Ryan to hold one end of the measuring tape, but Ryan was having trouble.  Randy then tried to have Ryan use his foot to keep the tape measure down.  That was difficult for Ryan too.  Randy ended up getting the measurement and then came out to tell me about trying to get Ryan’s help and including him in the process.  I went back to Ryan’s room and found Ryan crying.  I asked him “what’s wrong?” NOT ALWAYS GOOD AT HELPING WITH USING TOOLS.  MY NOT COOPERATING BODY IS TOO MUCH FOR ME TO HANDLE.  As you have probably realized, Ryan is very sensitive and he is also very aware of his limitations.  Randy and I reminded him that practice makes perfect and we reflected on how long it has taken him to become as fluent as he is with the letter board (19 months!)

The Move

The movers came a day early.  Yes, that’s right, a day early.  I answered the door in my pajamas.  Needless to say, Randy and I were flustered and stressed out.  Our kids did not flinch at all.  Both Ryan and Grace rolled with the punches.  I asked Ryan how he was able to stay so calm and cool:  NOT MUCH DEMAND ON ME.  Later, he went right up to one of the movers and smelled him.  Ryan does this a lot to people, especially new people.  I apologized to the mover and then I asked Ryan why he does that:  JUST EACH ONE OF AUTISTICS DIFFERENT WAYS OF CHECKING PEOPLE.

The New House

We arrived in Texas on Saturday night.  We were all anxious to get to the new home.  Once we got here and checked it out, I asked Ryan his thoughts about it:  EACH DAY CAPABLE OF AMAZING THINGS IN THIS HOUSE.  I asked him, “What are you most looking forward to?”  ONE OF THE THINGS THAT I CANT WAIT TO DO IS GO IN THE POOL.

His Room

Randy and I asked Ryan about his thoughts on his room.  SO MY ROOM DOOR IS NOT DRILLED RIGHT.  I looked at Randy and we both were shocked.  Ryan’s door was automatically closing prior to our arrival.  This past week, our brother-in-law, Patrick took the time to make the necessary adjustments to the door so that it would not shut automatically.  This meant that the hinge on the bottom was ever so slightly off.  I mean so slightly that I would never have noticed it.  Randy told him what Uncle Patrick had fixed and asked Ryan if that is what he was referring to.  YES.  I stood there in amazement.  I said to Ryan, “How did you notice that?”  SO KNOW THAT I PERFECTLY PHOTOGRAPH ALL THINGS THAT I SEE IN MY MIND.  AUTISTICS ARE WAY MORE OBSERVANT THAN MOST PEOPLE.  Randy then chimed in to ask Ryan if it would surprise him to know that he is just like that and would have noticed it too.  EACH DAY I REALIZE I AM MORE LIKE DAD THAN MOM.

So please forgive us for a break in the blog last week.  We are still swimming in a sea of boxes here, but I still hope to publish a few posts a week, especially when Ryan’s insights are poignant.  We also still have a few readers’ questions left, so we will get to those too.  Yeehaw and thanks for reading!!

A Boy and His Dad

I promised to post about this, so here we go!

My husband Randy has been my best friend since I met him at 20 years old.  For those of you who know him, you know that he is a man of few words, but when he speaks, everyone listens.  He has been described as “hard to read” and some of my friends have even asked me, “Does Randy like me?”  And the answer is that of course he does, but it can be hard to tell.

As Ryan opens up more and more each day, there are so many similarities between the two of them.  Both of them have the ability to memorize things easily.  Their sense of direction is amazing.  They both love maps.  Ryan often has a bit of a sarcastic tone when he is using humor in his communications; Randy is often sarcastic.  I would also say that both of them are now “hard to read.”

Randy recently pursued an internal job opportunity within his company that was based in the Dallas, Texas area.  This was a great career opportunity for him and it would mean that we would be closer to family again, with his mother Margaret and sister Jennifer and their families living in that area.  Well, Randy of course beat out six candidates for the position and began the job in April of this past year.  Ryan, Grace, and I stayed behind in San Jose, California to finish out the school year (but really, I wanted to get some more RPM workshops in for Ryan before leaving and there were several local ones that we attended through June).  Randy has been staying with Margaret and we recently purchased a home and he is now living there.  Randy has traveled back to San Jose a few times since April, but the most recent trip was one at the end of May.  It has been a long time since we have gotten to hug him.

Thank goodness for FaceTime!  This has been so helpful during this time of transition.  Now that Ryan has been a lot more flexible with the letter board outside of sessions, we have had Ryan and Randy communicate via FaceTime.  It has been nothing short of amazing.  Ryan now requests FaceTime with Randy on a nightly basis and I wanted to share with you a few conversations that they have had together.

One of the first times that Ryan requested FaceTime was the day before Father’s Day.  I was explaining to Ryan about how I wanted to do stuff on Father’s Day that Randy would like to do like go on a hike, eat out at one of our favorite lunch places, go to the park, and Ryan began to get sad.  I asked him what was wrong and he replied:  I AM MISSING MY DAD.  “Do you want to FaceTime with him?”  YES (which prior to this, Ryan avoided any attempt at FaceTime with any family member). We got Randy on FaceTime and he wrote:  I AM MISSING YOU AND MOM IS STRESSED OUT WHEN YOU ARE NOT HERE.  DONT UNDERSTAND WHY YOU ARE MY DAD AND YOU ARE NOT HERE ON FATHERS DAY?  Randy then explained to him about the job and the other responsibilities and how he couldn’t make it for the weekend.  Ryan replied:  YOU ARE TOO FAR AWAY.  Randy agreed with him and I then asked him if he had anything else to say to Dad?  YES.  YOU ARE MY HERO.

Just this past Saturday, Ryan once again requested to go to a REPAIR STORE for one of our outings.  He has been asking to do this for over two weeks now.  Reisa, our babysitter, has taken Ryan out to several of the ones in the area.  I have too.  We have hit every Home Depot, Lowe’s, Orchard Supply Hardware, and ACE Hardware in the area.  Ryan loves looking around and walking up and down the aisles.  I have asked him about this and he has stated that he wants to REPAIR STUFF WITH DAD.  He has told him this on FaceTime too and also reminded him:  REMEMBER DAD, SOMEDAY I WANT TO REPAIR THINGS WITH YOU.  Randy and I both chuckled and I said, “Ryan, there is no way that we would forget that as we have been waiting for over 8 years to hear about any interests that you have!”  Well later that day, I came up with the idea to do an RPM lesson about essential tools needed for a toolbox.  I figured that Ryan might know some of them but I researched and provided a lot of details (and I learned a lot!) and came up with what I thought was a great lesson.  As we sat down to do the lesson, about half way through, Ryan began crying and slapping his head and banging on the table.  I asked him what was wrong? THE LESSON IS TOO BORING!  Now he has criticized my lessons before, but I knew that there was more to this as he was still crying.  I told him this and then I asked if he wanted to talk to Dad about it.  YES.  We got Randy on FaceTime and Ryan spelled in the midst of his sobbing;  DONT KNOW IF I CAN KEEP GOING WITHOUT YOU HERE.  Randy explained to him that it would only be a few more days until they would be reunited.  Randy then asked, “Do you think that you can make it a few more days?’ NOT SURE. I MISS YOU SO MUCH. YOU ARE MY HERO.

So again, on Sunday, Ryan seemed a bit down.  I texted Randy asking if he would be available for FaceTime earlier.  Of course this wasn’t a problem.  Ryan was watching Thomas the Tank Engine on his iPad (I should probably say more like listening to it.) Randy noticed that and made mention of it.  I replied that he had had Thomas on for most of the morning (which was a bit unusual for him because he has other videos that he usually prefers like Leap Pad ones, Teach to Talk, and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse).  Ryan then spelled:  THOMAS HAS A CALMING EFFECT ON ME. (I found this fascinating!) They conversed for a bit and at the end, Ryan stated:  NOT A DAY GOES BY EVERY THOUGHT IS DETERMINED BY OUR REUNION.  CANT WAIT TO SEE YOU.

This is when I had the thought of making a blog post about this and their relationship.  It is amazing to me to witness the immense love that Ryan has for Randy.  The thing is, you would have never guessed it prior to this.  Ryan is not affectionate with Randy.  If Randy and I are in the room with him, Ryan will go to me to get his needs met.  Now, don’t get me wrong, Randy spends plenty of time with Ryan.  One of their favorite things to do together is to go on long drives and hike through beautiful parks.  Their bond is one of very little spoken word.  Ironically though, Randy did not know where he stood with Ryan until this time apart.

Their last FaceTime during this transition occurred on Monday night.  At the end, Ryan stated:  ONE MORE INTERESTING THING TO SAY.  ONE MORE DAY UNTIL WE ARE NEVER APART AGAIN.

So today is that day!  All of us cannot wait to have Randy back with us full time!  Our big move to Texas is this week, so please wish us luck!

Ryan Answers Readers’ Questions on Toilet Training, Early Memories, and Interactions With Other Kids

Emma writes:  “My son is not potty trained but wants to be, but it seems his body has a hard time cooperating, any advice?”

MY ADVICE IS BRING HIM TO THE BATHROOM ON A SCHEDULE.  MY TEACHER MADE ME DO THIS.  I LEARNED IT THAT WAY.  Ryan, I know this mom and she would do anything for her son.  She may have already done a schedule.  What if she has and that hasn’t worked?  SO QUIETLY HELP HIM WEAR UNDERPANTS.  Why did you use the word quietly?  UNDERSTAND YOUR IMAGINING VERY COMPLEX BODY MOVEMENTS AND THEY DONT WANT TO COOPERATE.  So when you say quietly, does that mean so as to not embarrass him?  YES.  SO KNOW THAT HE WANTS TO LEARN.  IT IS VERY DIFFICULT TO DO SO.  EACH DAY TRY TO HELP HIM NOW.  YOU WILL GET HIM TO DO IT.

I really do credit Ryan’s preschool teacher and her team with toilet training Ryan.  She made it her mission to do this for all of the kids in her classroom and came up with a thorough plan and used it for almost 30 years!  I think that she told me that there was only one child that she could not train in all of her classes and that was due to a medical issue.  I am very thankful for her as Ryan was apparently “so far behind” in all of the developmental milestones, but was toilet trained at 4 years old.  I really cannot take any credit for this.  Alex O’Brien, Cher Harris, and Eileen Martin, if you are reading this, I owe you guys big time!

Christine writes:  “Our family was just talking about Ryan today.  I was talking to my kids about how we used to walk with Ryan every day and how they always ate a banana on the ride.  They don’t remember eating bananas, but they do remember walking with Ryan.  They asked me if I thought that Ryan remembered them.  My question to Ryan is, what are some of your earliest memories?”

So I was actually nervous to ask Ryan this question.  Soma Mukhopadhyay writes about “episodic memory” in her books.  One of the providers that Ryan has worked with, Lenae Crandall of HEED RPM, wrote the following on her website:

“Episodic Memory- Episodic Memory is memory of past events. All of us struggle with accuracy on this. In fact, every time we revisit a memory we change it a little- unintentionally of course. So for those with brain under-connectivity this is more likely to happen.”  

Lenae goes on to write that “Memory involves LEARNING, UNDERSTANDING, and CONSCIOUSNESS. What we experience is stored in BITS and PIECES in the brain. When we go to remember we have to pull from different places (or retrieve), put together and then communicate the thoughts. this is a lot of networking so you can see how it would get more jumbled in Autism.”  More can be found at http://heedrpm.com/episodic-memory-and-autism/

So I asked Ryan, “Do you remember Adelaide and Cole (Christine’s children)?”  YES.

His reply to Christine’s question was the following:  SOME OF MY EARLIEST MEMORIES ARE YOU READING BOOKS TO ME. NOT MUCH ELSE.  Do you remember your favorite books from that time?  NOT REALLY.  KNOW MY MEMORY IS NOT GOOD ABOUT MUCH AS A BABY.  So it seems like Ryan’s response is in line with what Soma and Lenae both have written about.

Ryan answered one more question this afternoon.  John wrote the following:  “Hello, Ryan and hello, Stephanie.  Thank you for your posts. I am learning a lot from them. They sometimes make me cry because they are poignant and beautiful, but it’s a good kind of crying.

A friend of mine’s son is autistic and is 9 years old. I often don’t know what to say or how to act so I will try your advice in this post. My question to both of you is for similar advice about how to include/interact with my friend when all of our children are together? It can be uncomfortable if her son is having a rough day or my own children are asking awkward questions.

I somehow feel it is easier for me to socialize with an autistic child than for me and my family to socialize with an autistic child and his or her family. Does that make sense? Any advice would be appreciated.

Thank you for your writing. I think it’s wonderful.”

Ryan’s response:  SO ONE OF THE WAYS YOU CAN INCLUDE YOUR KIDS IN THE INTERACTION IS BY ASKING THEM NOT TO ASK AWKWARD QUESTIONS.  Ryan, sometimes kids may ask questions or say things because they don’t know any better.  What would you say to that?  YOU CAN EXPLAIN THAT WE ARE NORMAL ON THE INSIDE AND THAT WEIRD QUESTIONS SOMETIMES HURT OUR FEELINGS.  SO KNOW THAT WE ARE VERY SENSITIVE.  YOUR ACTIONS LEAVE LASTING IMPRESSIONS.  SO REMEMBER SOMETIMES YOU HOIST YOURSELF ONE LESSON AT A TIME.  YOU (John) ARE VERY KIND TO BE ASKING YOUR QUESTIONS HERE.

I will leave you all with this, Ryan is very sensitive.  I will be writing this week about how he has been affected by being apart from his dad, Randy, during our transition for our move.  That is going to be a post that you won’t want to miss!
 

A Bit of Info on Our RPM Journey and Ryan Answers More Readers’ Questions!

I wanted to give all of you some background on our journey with Rapid Prompt Method.  We began with a local workshop here in the Bay Area in California in January 2014.  At that time, Ryan was seven years old and we were very unsure how much he understood.  He was still doing very basic things in school and had absolutely no academics at all in school.  We knew that he was smart and that he was paying attention because he would do things like look at you to see if you were watching him do something that he wasn’t supposed to do…

At that workshop, we started with paper choices for answers.  Ryan did very well with Erika Anderson, from ACE RPM, who was the provider who facilitated the workshop.  He was able to learn grade level academics (which at that time would have been first grade) and he was able to sit at a desk for 25 minutes and participate.  This was our son who wouldn’t even sit for meals at home.  He was sitting, attending for 25 minutes.

From then on, we focused solely on academics.  I knew that I was laying a foundation for his learning and to not push the open ended responses.  When we got home and it was up to me, Ryan would only choose answers on the right side.  Even if the answer was wrong, he chose the right side.  I was so frustrated.  I scheduled a phone consult with Erika and sent her a video of Ryan and me working together.  She gave me some good, constructive feedback and we were on our way again.  And then Ryan decided to pick only left side answers.  Every time.  We were back at square one and scheduled another consult.  I got more tips and we continued on.

We worked almost every day, for just 10-20 minutes a day depending on his tolerance.  I prepared lessons based on curriculum books.  We did language arts (he learned about long and short vowels, consonant blends, etc.), science, social studies, and math.  I also created lessons based on glimmers of interests that I was able to discern (like sports and zoo animals).  I still stuck with paper choices and then gradually added in stencils to have him shadow the spelling of the answers on them.  There were days that I physically carried him to the table to work with me.  (I sometimes still have to do that!)  After 6 months, we were still only doing academics and some social stories for outings that we were going to go on or for events that we were going to attend.  I tell you all of this so that you know that RPM was not a quick fix.

I will continue to share more of our journey later on.  Now on to what you probably have been waiting for…Readers’ Questions!

Tina asked:  Ryan, how do you want others to view you?

REMEMBERING YOU ARE NOT ONLY AUTISTIC BUT A HUMAN BEING TOO.  “Anything else to say to that question?”  NO.

Marah wrote:  What type of instrument do you want to play?  Thanks for including us in your blog!

GETTING TOO MANY VERY INDIVIDUAL QUESTIONS.  “You can’t determine the questions that people send to you.  If you want to answer reader questions, you need to be prepared to answer any questions that they have.  So can you answer this one?  What instrument do you want to play?”  SO NOT SURE YET.

And the last ones for today were from Mette.  I have a 6 year old autistic daughter.  I have heard her say words at different times, but then it can be 6 months before she uses them again.  Why is that?

YOUR DAUGHTER CAN SAY WORDS WHICH IS AWESOME.  AUTISTICS OFTEN HAVE TROUBLE DOING THAT.  SO KNOW THAT SPEECH IS VERY HARD FOR US.  I AM NOT ABLE TO SPEAK SO I AM NOT SURE ON THAT.

Mette continued:  Actually I have a second question.  There are moments mostly at night right before going to bed, where I feel her being more open to me, like she is clearer, but it only lasts a few minutes.  Does this happen to you?  Are there times when you feel more present without the obstacle of autism?

SO YES THIS HAPPENS TO ME.  REALLY YOU SHOULD BE HAPPY WHEN IT HAPPENS.  I LOVE IT WHEN IT HAPPENS TO ME. “Can you talk about when this happens to you?  Like does it happen with a specific therapy, medication, or time of day?”  IT HAPPENS WHEN I LEAST EXPECT IT.

So those are his responses for now.  If you have submitted a question, please know that I will be sure to have Ryan respond to it.  Thanks for your patience as we get the blog up and running.  There have been a few minor issues (the date of yesterday’s post will continue to irk me until I can fix it!) but the response from all of you has been awesome.  I will leave you with a little story about an outing from Tuesday.  Ryan, Grace, and I went on a short trip.  Ryan requested to go to ACE HARDWARE as he has been interested in learning about repairing things.  After we walked through the store, we went next store to Petco Unleashed.  We walked through the entire store and Ryan then went to the register where there were two young ladies waiting for customers.  He was hovering a bit, so I asked him if he had a question for them.  He replied YES.  SO NOT A SINGLE DOG IN THE STORE, WHY IS THAT?  One of the girls behind the counter told Ryan that her dog was in the store earlier and she showed him some pictures on her phone.  It made me think about creating some kind of business cards to hand to people while we are out to let them know about the blog.  What do you guys think?

Thanks again for reading!

Link to ACE RPM: http://www.acetc.info

The Stars and Stripes and Some Readers’ Questions Answered!

Today, we did a lesson on the origin of the Star Spangled Banner.  It was a shorter lesson, but I was able to incorporate new learning and pulled out some prior working knowledge from Ryan.  It is up to me to get creative with the lessons in order to keep his attention.  So things like “we are talking about Baltimore. Do you know what state Baltimore is in?” MARYLAND. “And the flag that flew was 42 feet by 30 feet.  If a taller man is around 6 feet tall, how many men can lay down head to toe to make the 42 feet?” 7. “How about the 30 feet?” 5.

Ryan enjoyed the lesson and he stated that SO KNOW THAT MY FAVORITE SONG IS THE STAR SPANGLED BANNER.  “Do you know all of the words?” YES.  “Is it a song that you sing in your head?” YES.  “Why is it your favorite song?”  BECAUSE IT IS ABOUT FREEDOM, REMEMBERING NOT TO FORGET ABOUT IT.”

I told Ryan about the reader submitted questions and he wanted to try and answer a few.

Our first question came from Debra.  How should someone who has not met many autistic people, respectfully approach them in a non threatening way – in a way that would show them you want to be their friend?

SO I WOULD SAY NOT TO LINGER TOO LONG AND TO QUIETLY ASK YOUR PLEASING QUESTIONS.  Anything else?  SO NOT MUCH ELSE BESIDES BEING KIND.  “When you say quietly ask, does that mean to actually speak quietly?”  SO YES NOT TOO LOUDLY.  “Why is that?” BECAUSE I AM SOUND SENSITIVE.  “Both Grace and I speak loudly often, does it bother you?”  YES IT BOTHERS ME.  “Okay!  I will try and have us both speak more quietly.”

The next question came from Sarah, who is a former occupational therapist of Ryan’s from school:  Ryan, sometimes people (grown-ups too) have to do things they don’t want to do.  How can we make it easier for students to do work that isn’t fun?

MAKE IT MORE FUN BY CHALLENGING US WITH MORE MEANINGFUL WORK.  “Ryan, I think that what Sarah means is that sometimes people have to do things like chores, practice handwriting, take standardized tests, do repetitive math problems.  Sometimes the work just has to be done.  What would you say to that?”  SO LET STUDENTS KNOW ABOUT THE PURPOSE OF THE WORK.

My plan is to try and tackle a few reader questions each time for upcoming posts.  I also plan to give you more details about Ryan’s journey with RPM and how far he has come. The spelling out of his thoughts did not happened over night and there was no miracle involved.  It was a lot of hard work on Ryan’s part and a lot of perseverance on my part.  More to come on that later…

When Ryan Asked a Question to Himself and Then Answered it…

We had a rough day here yesterday.  Ryan was very hyper and was getting into a lot of things that he should not be getting into.  We did a short lesson on the story of the Magic Paintbrush and he did fine with it.  I had a minor medical procedure on one of my eyes so I was not feeling my best.  I wasn’t sure that we would do a second RPM session (we try and do two during the summer).  Ryan expressed that he wanted to work on his blog, so I obliged.

I asked him if he had anything in mind and he spelled HOW ABOUT SOMEONE ASKS HOW TO MEANINGFULLY INCLUDE AUTISTICS IN LIFE?  I said, “Well we haven’t asked people to ask you questions yet, but I think that it would be great if you answered this.”

So Ryan came up with FIVE WAYS TO MEANINGFULLY INCLUDE AUTISTICS IN LIFE.

1.  I WOULD SAY TO NOT MEANINGFULLY SPEAK ABOUT THEM IN FRONT OF THEM.

2.  SO HAVE THEM RENT ONE OF THE LEAP PAD VIDEOS FOR THEM.  I asked, “Are you talking to the parents of young autistic children?”  YES.  “Why?” BECAUSE NOT EVERY AUTISTIC CHILD KNOWS HOW TO READ.  “Did these teach you to read?”  YES AND YOU TAUGHT ME WITH RPM.

3.  YOU CAN INCLUDE THEM BY MOSTLY YOUR KINDNESS.

4.  YOU CAN READ HARRY POTTER TO THEM.  “Why Harry Potter?”  BECAUSE MANY KIDS READ IT.

5.  SO YOU CAN KNOW THAT MUSIC ALWAYS WORKS TO CALM US DOWN.  “Does this apply to all autistics?”  YES “How do know it works for all autistics?”  SO MY CLASSMATES SOMETIMES TELL ME NOT BY SPEAKING BUT BY RELAXING.  “What kind of music?”  SO FAMILIAR SONGS.  “Can you share some of the ones that work for you?”  THE BABIES SONG (this is a song that I have been singing to him since he was a newborn.  My dad made it up to the tune of the Armour Hot Dog jingle and changed the words and used to sing it to all seven of us kids.) “Any other songs?”  SOME OF THE ONES FROM MY SHOWS.  I may have been known to sing songs from Special Agent Oso and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse before…(remember Tone Deaf Steph?)

So selfishly, this blog has already helped me learn more about Ryan.  I am in awe of his responses and I hope that they will be helpful to all of you.

I thought that it might be helpful to include what I would have answered.  My responses would be to treat autistics just as you would treat anyone else, to presume competence (meaning that presume that the individual understands what you say–do not use short phrases or baby talk), to expose autistics to as many normal experiences as possible (even if it is hard for you to do), read to them as much as possible (even if they don’t look like they are paying attention, they probably are, and follow them with the book even if they leave the room because they may not be able to control that), and introduce the parents, therapists, or caregivers to RPM.

I guess it goes without saying that Ryan would love to help answer any questions that you have.  You can submit them in the comments here or message us on Facebook.

My plan for this blog is to use this for Ryan to educate all of us about autism and for me to help all of you learn about our daily challenges and successes with autism, to learn more about Rapid Prompt Method and Ryan’s journey to this point.  I hope that you will all continue to stay on for the ride!

Here is a link to one of the versions of the Magic Paintbrush story:  http://www.worldstories.org.uk/stories/story/154-the-magic-paint-brush

Here is a link to the Leap Pad Videos:  http://www.leapfrog.com/en-us/store/p/letter-factory-dvd/_/A-prod21223

Sleep and Music

So Ryan and I sat down to do our first “official” blog post since starting the blog.  I gave him a choice of several topics to talk about like our upcoming move to Texas, what the letter board means to him, his favorite sport or t.v. show, etc.  He did not want to talk about any of those topics.  Well I a bit flippantly said that we could talk about why you had so much trouble falling asleep last night…he immediately responded with YES.

So here is the conversation that followed:

Me:  So you had a lot of difficulty falling asleep last night, even with your sleepy medicine and melatonin.  Why is that?

Ryan:  NOT VERY TIRED. SO FUN TO STAY UP LATE.

Me:  What are you doing in your room that is so fun?  Are you stimming?

Ryan:  YES.  MY THOUGHTS KEEP ME UP AT NIGHT.

Me:  What kind of thoughts?

Ryan:  SO I THINK ABOUT MY MUSIC IN MY HEAD.

Me:  What is the style of the music?

Ryan:  STYLE IS SOMEWHAT DIFFERENT THAN NEW MUSIC.

Me:  Does it have lyrics?

Ryan:  YES.

Me:  Are you interested in sharing the lyrics on the blog?

Ryan:  YES.

I AM IN MY HEAD.

SO WONDERFUL YOU ARE, YOU ARE TO ME.

NO ONE IS MY CHEERLEADER

MY FRIEND

MY CONFIDANT

NO ONE MAKES ME FEEL SO LOVED

YOU ARE MY EVERYTHING.

Me:  That is absolutely beautiful.  It writes like a poem.  I wish that I knew how the music goes along with it.  How are we going to get the notes out of your head?

Ryan:  YOU ARE GOING TO TEACH ME TO WRITE MUSIC.

Me:  Is there anything else that you want to say for your blog?

Ryan:  YES.  I AM HAPPY TO BE BLOGGING.  YOU INSPIRE ME TO NOT SETTLE FOR AUTISTIC SILENCE.

So that is how our first writing experience went.  I am not musical at all and Ryan knows this.  We have talked about music before and he has expressed that he wants a lesson on how to write music.  This is a bit stressful to me as I have dubbed myself as “Tone Deaf Steph” so this will be a challenge.  However, if anyone is up for that challenge, I know that I am because I would do anything for Ryan.

If any of you have any suggestions for a crash course in writing music, I am all ears (get it?)!

Ryan’s First Ever Blog Post Featured on Faith, Hope, and Love…With Autism

Ryan’s first ever blog post was featured on my favorite blog http://faithhopeloveautism.blogspot.com.  My friend Lisa and her son Philip write this blog and it is essentially one of the inspirations for starting this blog with Ryan.  Lisa and Philip make a great team and this past April, they asked for submissions by other autistics for their blog.  Below is Ryan’s submission.

DEAR WORLD,

I AM RYAN CURRY.  EACH DAY I’M MAKING A CHOICE.  EACH DAY A STUPID BODY DOESN’T MIND A BRAIN.

AUTISTICS, YOUR LONELINESS DOES NOT WITHSTAND TIME.  I NOW AM ABLE TO SPEAK MOSTLY BY WORDS.

EVERYONE ELSE, OPEN YOUR MIND TO US.  SHOW US YOU RESPECT US. EACH INSTANCE ON YOUR TIME IS JUST AS EQUIVALENT AS MINE.

I WANT TO WISH MY MOM MY DEAREST THANKS, FOR EACH DAY IS BETTER TEACHING ME RPM.

July Fourth: Our Freedom and Our New Journey!

As we celebrate our freedom today, Ryan and I have decided to embark on a new journey together.  We are going to attempt to blog about our lives, autism, RPM, and anything else that comes up.  This is a very exciting endeavor for us, so we hope that you will be a part of our journey.  Please feel free to submit any questions for Ryan or for me to answer. We will do our best to answer them!  One of Ryan’s goals is to become an AUTISTIC ADVOCATE and we feel like that this is a good way to do that!

For those of you who do not know us, Ryan is an 8 year old who is diagnosed with autism and apraxia.  Up until a year and a half ago, we were unsure how much he understood or how much he knew.  He has completely changed our way of thinking as I am now able to teach him grade level and above grade level academics.  This is a child who was still being taught basic concepts like verbs, matching, and his colors.  He is now learning geography, history, current events, science, and math!

I submitted Ryan’s story on the disability advocacy website The Mighty.  You can find this story here. http://themighty.com/2015/04/when-our-child-with-autism-began-using-a-letter-board/

***A quick note:  throughout this blog, we will share Ryan’s thoughts with all of you.  I will use all capital letters when it is Ryan’s thoughts.***

Today, Ryan requested a history of the Fourth of July lesson versus one that focused on the holiday.  I created one that he enjoyed and learned from.  I asked him his thoughts at the end of the lesson and he said: MY THOUGHTS ARE I AM HAPPY TO LIVE IN A COUNTRY WITH MY FREEDOM. WE PEOPLE DONT REALIZE, CARING ONLY FOR OURSELVES, SO MANY PEOPLE DONT HAVE FREEDOM LIKE GRANDPA BOB.

I often feel as though Ryan has an adult mind, trapped in a very unpredictable and uncooperative child’s body.  Tonight once again reaffirmed this.

Please wish us luck!  We can’t wait to see where this new adventure will take us!