Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Accidental Bystander of Homeschooling on Language

Teaching language and language arts to a person with language delays is a challenge.   I have tried many methods and curriculums. While I use the Montessori materials for language and sentence structure I have embraced many other tools to get the job done.  Reading comprehension is our number one challenge. Short term memory issue effect how a spelling lesson or vocabulary words are retained. I am constantly re-acess and tweaking what we do.  I have found that the Lindamood Bell materials are wonderful for our needs.  I use the Visualizing and Verbalizing Stories and workbooks by Nanci Bell.  This has to be the hardest thing we do and most labour intensive. While I know my son comprehends and understands information when given in a documentary form, he just has a difficult time answer the when, what, where, how and why questions.  He can retell a story and add to a story, create his own version and reflect on how if he were in the story he would help people but he struggles with how neural typical people assembles information with the what, when, where, why and how questions.  He does not need those points of reference to define what he thinks about the story.  It isn't part of his perspective.  He see the world in a different way.  Part of my redefining of what does education look like, for this learner, is do we need to make him think the way we do?  Can I not embrace his perspective and help him paint his vision out loud so I  and others can understand and share in his perceptive and see what he sees.  Wouldn't that be easier more humane than making him into to me or neuro-typical?  He comprehends but on his terms.  Anyway we still use this curriculum and also the Imagine That Stories Visualizing and Verbalizing materials.  He doesn't like it though and I am unsure of it's worth to him.   I also use the Seeing Stars workbooks and find them much better in kid appeal.  They are focus more on vocab and grammar.

I also use Montessori 3 part and 5 part cards for language and vocabulary tools.  We have them in in Botany, Geography and Biomes work.  Also Zoology and animal classification.   These non fiction cards are created to teach concepts, create vocabulary, aid in research and in general introduce and teach learners new subject matters by identifying, labeling, defining and match up the work to the label and definition.   They work great. My son likes them.  Many teachers do not like this work.  I do for our needs.  They are visual and engaging.  We also use the cards across all subjects. Animals to biomes, geography to botany and back again.

The Montessori Language materials are hard to organize without the costly colored boxes.  My 1st attempt at organizing them was a disaster and they are almost unusable as they are organized. My friend and Conor's mentor/teacher is coming over this holiday break to help me untangle the language cards and get them into a child user friendly order.   It is going to be a huge undertaking.

As you can see by the smiles Conor enjoys learning language and vocabulary this way so much more.  Beautiful pictures and labels with definitions is so much more user friendly than plowing thought the Nanci Bell materials.  I have recently bought more of these cards for science and geometry concepts. I think we can use them for a long time.  We have them for the 5 Great Lessons as well and my son loves them.

Augmentative Commmunication and Assistive Technology
Because of Conor's language delays and reciprocal language issues in 2011 we got him an aug com device with the software Touch Chat HD. We started off slow on this device but now uses it for almost all his writing work. He still struggles with communication but it is an issue of intent too.  He doesn't want to talk to much.  Touch Chat HD is an amazing program, with word prediction and plenty of room for extra buttons to personalize.  My son is verbal but he is unable to reciprocate language and struggles with creating any sort of language in writing.  He also doesn't really yearn to talk to much.  Like most autistic people if you find a subject he wants to talk about he will go on for hours. Ask him about Dr. Who and get ready for a long night.  Ask him what he did last night or wait for him to ask you what you did and it will never happen.  The aug com is invaluable for reminding him to do these things with prompts we program in to it.  As for writing Conor has a hard time writing anything from his imagination.  He can tell you a story but he can not form his thoughts into a sentence. With this device I can ask him to show me what the dog is doing and he can create a film on the dog's day.  He can also write a sentence with the Touch Chat software of what the dog is doing. The process of making something out of nothing on paper was so scrambled that for years we used poetry magnets to write with,  it was so limiting.  I used PECS or symbol cards to help us with sequencing activities and this also helped with language. We use symbols for language and it helped with the transition to aug com.  However he does know letters and sounds and blends.  We and the public schools system worked for years with him on decoded blends and sounding out letters. Mostly with Spaulding flash cards and the tenacity of his 4th grade teacher, who despite being overwhelmed from a new school and a large class did get him sounding out all the letters and blends. He still struggles with reading but decoding the sounds language makes and remembering them is a much easier process for him.  We now use the aug com device for all writing communication, it shares with email and Facebook.  We also use our aug com device for cueing us to What the 5 What, when, why, where and how's means. We have a section for OCD fears and coping skills cues, resetting behaviors cues, relaxation cues, social cues and all the examples of how to socialize.  He can refer back to these prompts when he is confused.  We record social stories and social skills role playing on this device too. It has buttons that you can record the prompts and cues on and he can pull these up when he needs to be reminded what to do. The device gets used everyday for many hours.  Because the software is on an Ipad he also has a portal to apps and the universe is still expanding in that realm and what it means to education and the special needs community.  I will do a post on apps he uses another day.  Here is a picture of the aug com screen.

1 comment:

  1. I would certainly focus on what he can do well and continue to be mindful of how he is learning. You're doing a wonderful job!