Friday, June 4, 2010

Expressive language & storytelling..

Both the school and outpatient speech & language pathologists have confirmed what I already know that my son has an expressive language & pragmatic language disability.  It's not surprising with SPD/ASD.  But for some reason the school SLP are unable to articulate to his teachers what that means.

It explains why writing in his journal is such a battle.  He doesn't have the skills to plan an essay or brainstorm a topic.  The big "problem" this past week was storytelling.  A week ago Wednesday my son's class went on  a field trip to a science museum in Philadelphia, about 75 minutes away if there's minimal trafffic. He had a fine time, nearly every parent went as a "chaperone". He loved when he got to touch the snake & terrapin. (He was dragging right before that & perked right up when Touchy McToucherson had an opportunity to be in the hands on area and touch animals).

Flash forward to last Friday. The class assignment was to write a story about their visit. The topic sentence was prewritten.  The first question was "How did you get to the museum?" (Other questions were what did you see, what did you like best & would you go back).  What did my son do?

He got stuck in the first question. "We took a bus to the museum. IT TOOK A VERY LONG TIME."  The bus ride was hard for him (both ways).  And he got stuck. No amount of prodding or pushing was going to change that.  So they sent the worksheet home (5/28). We worked on it over the weekend. Since I was there (and the souveniers were home) I could help encoruage ideas.  It was tough, but he did it. He listed his thoughts rather than write sentences because once the block was moved the memories came flooding out.

No school Monday so we sent it back on Tuesday 6/1.

(They actually wanted to know why I sent it back "so late", ummmm did you want me to drop it off on Saturday?  Sheesh!)

So Wednesday they gave him a nice blank piece of paper (very daunting to a child with sensory and expressive language difficulties) and told him to write his story.  (Nice thought, but again he is seriously lacking in these skills.  Apparenlty the thought is to nag him into compliance. It backfires everytime) They claim they spent THREE hours trying to get him to write the story.  Give the kid a break. Seriously if he was "willfully" being "defiant and oppositional" don't you think he would have caved by then?!? Do you seriously think he wants to be ostracized? It's not that he WON'T do the work but that he doesn't have the skills to do the work so in effect he CAN'T do the work.  It's painfully obvious that he lacks expressive language skills unless he is talking about rocks, dogs, weather, animals, dinosaurs, Legos or a select few other subjects.  They have actually complained that they will try and avoid his favorite subjects so they don't have to hear about it anymore.  Even better they then complain that if not speaking about a favorite subject he won't talk to them!

Ultimately he wrote the story (handwritten) sitting next to me on the couch. With only a few reminders, prompts, and help with a few spelling words, he even wrote more than he was required to.  I would not give him the sentences so these were his own words. (Written in the same speech he uses.)

What next, are they going to accuse that I wrote it for him? I couldn't write like him if I tried...and  I don't write in the same style as my son. 

He is a horrible storyteller at this time. And you know what? That's okay.  He is a pronoun abuser, but he is improving. I just remind him that I don't always know which "that" "there" "thing" "him" or "she" he is talking about.

Sure I am more willing to make accommodations because he is my child. But I am not a professional educatior or speech & lanugage pathologist working in an elementary school.  Why can't these people understand that some of there expectations are higher than his level of skill?  Even his baseball coach (a non-teacher) can figure out how to "get to him".  Why can't those responsible for my child's 'formal' education do the same?

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