• anxiety,  autism,  post high school,  post secondary autism,  reading,  reading comprehension,  teen years


    I’m not into numbers like J, but 2020 is going to be an interesting year for our Beck family. And I’m trying to keep my 2020 outlook on my family because the year’s barely started and between the Australian fires and the Iran stuff happening (my sister lives in Saudi Arabia, so I’m always nervous when stuff happens out there) there’s some really disheartening things happening in the world right now and we’re only six days into the new year. So… We’re heading into that stretch of the “end of childhood and into adulthood” with J, which is equal parts terrifying and exiting. In May, he’ll be finishing grade 11.…

  • autism,  helps,  high school,  learning strategies,  motherhood,  reading,  reading comprehension,  teen years

    J and the Scarlet Ibis

    Once there was a boy who was born sick with disabilities. Nobody thought the boy would live, but he did. He had physical disabilities and he had intellectual disabilities. Nobody thought he would walk, but his brother taught him how to walk. The disabled boy learned how to speak. He was smart. His brother would take him to the swamp near their house and there the brother had plans on how to teach the disabled boy how to run, and swim, and do all sorts of physical things kids his age did. The brother planned to do all of these things before the disabled boy went to school. The disabled…

  • autism,  family,  helps,  learning strategies,  reading,  reading comprehension,  strategies

    Calling grandma for backup

    June 8, I got my first, real, spontaneous “word picture” from J. It’s a skill we’ve been really working on over the past month (so much so that my mum has been living with us in Fargo for all of June to help us with it).  J and I went out for a run and I asked him where he wanted to go. His first answer? “Back yesterday.” That’s the typical sort of answer I get from J when I ask him a question. 5 word sentence maximum, always vague. Then I rephrased the question. “J, I just can’t see that. You’re going to have to use your words to…

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  • autism,  Education,  learning strategies,  reading,  reading comprehension

    This changes everything

    There are very few clear moments of revelation when raising a child with autism. As a parent, the autism puzzle is always on my mind. I’m reading constantly about autism. I’ve gone through phases of intense research on ABA and Stanley Greenspan’s Floortime approach. I’ve read about Temple Grandin, read things written by Temple Grandin, have heard Temple speak on Youtube, NPR, and in person, and while all of these sources have given me a better insight into J, nothing has been a “perfect fit” solution by any means. So when I went to the Lindamood Bell conference last week in Minneapolis, I wasn’t sure to expect. Because I had…

  • home strategies,  milestones,  reading,  reading comprehension

    “Deeper Magic”

    A few weeks ago, J came out of his bedroom, looked me straight in the eye, and with a big smile announced, “I had a dream last night.” In the thirteen years I’ve been his mother J has never once talked about dreams. In fact, I’ve wondered if autistic kids dream at all. When W was a toddler and having all sorts of dreams and nightmares (one time after watching the Wizard of Oz, W woke up crying about the flying monkeys she thought were in her room sitting on her dresser and was shocked when we turned on the lights and they weren’t there), J was consistently radio silent…

  • reading,  study skills

    Making Pictures out of Words

    One of J’s biggest academic struggles is with reading comprehension. In the beginning he was a fabulous reader. He could sound out words and burn through the early reader books because he’s good at individual words. He loves to figure out how they work together and what the rules are for putting them together. He’s always been a kid who wants to know the rules. (As I’m typing this I’m wondering if we should be reading poetry with this boy to help him build those images and other sensory experiences with words…) There was even  a time where he was obsessed with synonyms, antonyms, and homophones. Especially the homophones. He just thought…

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  • autism,  cross-country,  empathy,  middle school,  reading,  social skills

    Little Changes and a Step Closer to Empathy

    Fall is in full force here in Fargo. J insists that our fridge is stocked with chilled cider and that every morning starts with hot chocolate chip muffins. He has set ideas about these things. I insist that J looks for the changes in the trees as we walk to the high school for XC practice. Fall is by far the best reminder for me that little changes happen every day. The way that the tops of a maple catch crimson one day and in a few more days the fiery red has spread to the next tier of branches and then the next week a new tier catches fire.…

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  • apps,  reading

    What’s on our iPad: Reading Comprehension Edition

    I used to think that we are all inherently good or bad at things. But after hearing Temple Grandin speak in Fargo a few years ago explain her strengths and weaknesses in math (how she was terrible at algebra and fantastic at geometry), it made me see “subjects” and “challenges” in a whole new way, and it helped me understand J a little bit better. J is an amazing speller–he always has been. Before he could really talk, he could spell words, not just easy words like “cat” and “dog.” He could spell “dinosaur” and “Hy-Vee-Food & Drug” and “Old Navy” and “octagon.” When he was three. He loves grammar and…

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