Wednesday, October 10, 2007

What did you do today?

Every parent, I think, has trouble getting information out of their kids about how they spend their day. “How was school today?” is a question that is probably met most often with silence, shrugs or single word answers.

This phenomenon is more pronounced with a child that has a language disorder like Hyperlexia. Since he started preschool, Ben has rarely been able to answer the question, “What did you do at school today?” I wonder sometimes if he even able to process it.

I tried a different tactic this week. At the dinner table, I asked him to help me write a list of what happened at school today. I got a notepad and pen I seeded the list by writing:

What Ben did today

1. Ben rode on the bus.

“Number two…” he began, and immediately completed the following list, with me taking furious dictation.

2. Ben got to school.
3. Ben rode the bike.
4. Ben ate lunch.
5. Ben rode the bike again.
6. But Adrian was using it.
7. Then mommy can to pick me up and they rode in the elevator and they went in the car and they drove home.

By using his strengths, the ability to process written language, I was able to help him express himself. I’ve never gotten this much information from him through a conversation. Ever.

So, of course, I wanted to try it again the next night. But I decided I wouldn’t push it. I didn’t want to take the risk that it would become just another thing that I prod him to do.

But halfway through dinner, he said, “Mommy, say it again.” I repeated whatever I had just said and he clarified, “Mommy, say the thing…what happened today.”

I realized he was asking to make another list.

I got the notepad again, and here’s what he dictated. (I wrote the first one again. The rest is his, verbatim.)

Ben’s Day

1. Ben rode the bus to school.
2. When I got to school, I saw Kelsy.
3. And I lined up with the students.
4. I walked up the stairs.
5. I went past the playground.
6. I ran into the classroom and sat down on the chair.
7. I had circle time.
8. I had language
9. I had learning centers.
10. I read a book called All About You.
11. And then I went home.

He seemed to realize that number eleven took some factual liberties and quickly told me, “No number eleven.” so I struck it from the record.

I’m definitely going to keep the notepad handy.


Anonymous said...

Dear Christa,
What a great writer you are! Thank you for sharing your writing which has shown the depth and breadth of a mother's love for her child. Also, the blessing of connection between you and Ben. Your time and creativity is allowing Ben to express himself and share in your world together. Awesome, the list! Ben's smile has captured my heart and soul.

KAL said...

Christa, I just finished reading your entire blog from your most recent post (Jan '08) to the beginning and I'm just so happy to have found you and your writing about Ben.

One of my boys is completely hyperlexic and has an HFA diagnosis. I always thought that hyperlexia was more of a symptom than a condition onto itself (going hand in hand with autism) and I'm wondering if that's Sam's main issue. If nothing else, you've spurred me on to further research.

Ben's capacity for memorization is astonishing and reminds me so much of my son who has been reading since he was 2.5. It is an amazing talent.

I look forward to following your story.